Chris Paul trade chatter grows, Lakers right at front of line

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The buzz around the league that the New Orleans Hornets have decided that they have to trade Chris Paul and do it fast is growing.

And the name that keeps coming up more and more as a potential landing spot for the star point guard is the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hornets’ general manager Dell Demps did meet face-to-face with Paul, according to Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that Paul and Hornets general manager Dell Demps did have their expected sitdown at the team’s practice facility Monday and that the tone of the meeting was amicable. But Paul, sources said, did not tell the Hornets that he is prepared to sign an extension before the regular season opens Christmas Day, which only increases the likelihood that the Hornets deal the star guard this month.

If they are going to move him, the question is the landing spot. There are a lot of teams interested: The Warriors, Clippers Celtics, Hawks, Rockets and Mavericks. Both the Celtics (who would offer Rajon Rondo) and Rockets are reportedly willing to trade for Paul without him having agreed to extend his deal with the team.

However, more and more the destination that comes up is the Los Angeles Lakers. Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated explains.

Numerous front-office sources told SI.com that the Paul-to-the-Lakers chatter grew louder this week, and the common belief is that it would take Andrew Bynum to get that deal done (as opposed to 31-year-old forward Pau Gasol).

As we passed along yesterday, there are reports that the Lakers and Hornets have had a conversation and would talk again, but that the talks were vague at first. However, that may be changing.

The Lakers want more than just Chris Paul, reports Broussard at ESPN.

It is no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers would like to trade for Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, but sources with knowledge of the situation says the Lakers actually have something greater in mind: acquiring both players.

Hoping to pull off a pair of blockbuster moves that would rock the NBA, the Lakers are willing to trade anyone on their roster outside of Kobe Bryant to bring Howard and Paul to Los Angeles, two sources said.

That is not going to happen because the Lakers have only one real asset a young, rebuilding team would want — Bynum.

Gasol is arguably the most skilled big man in the game right now but he is 31 years old with a huge contract, not a player a rebuilding team will want. Odom works as a throw in as part of a Bynum deal if the Lakers have to take back a bad contract to make it work. But a rebuilding team will want Bynum and picks as part of he deal and the Lakers have only one of him.

The question is, do the Hornets get him for Paul or the Magic for Howard? The key difference is that while the Hornets seem to have come to the conclusion they need to move CP3 now, the Magic still hold out hope they can convince Howard to stay. They  are on a different timeline. Paul seems to be the guy who will get moved first.

Remember this other hurdle to a Paul-to-Lakers deal — the Hornets are owned by the league right now. After preaching competitive balance and giving small market teams a chance throughout the lockout, could the league (and other owners) sign off on a deal that sends CP3 to a marquee team in a huge market? Do not underestimate how that could change things.