Chris Paul update: Clippers waiting for league, Lakers trying to get back in

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The entire Chris Paul saga reminds me of the NBA lockout, just flipped on its head.

In the lockout, the owners and league made wild demands of the players, and since the owners had the leverage they got most of what they wanted (they got the money, which is what mattered most).

With CP3, the league (which owns the Hornets) shot down the trade to the Lakers and is making outrageous demands of the Clippers to get a deal done.

Except, this time the Clippers have the leverage. They walked away from he bargaining table on Monday and while the league has worked to re-engage them the Clippers are sitting around waiting for the league to come back to them with a more reasonable offer.

But in that interim time, the Los Angeles Lakers have tried to jump back into the fray, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

ESPN.com learned Tuesday that a Lakers’ deal for Paul has not yet been ruled out, contingent on the fact that they can recruit at least one other team to supply some of the young pieces that the league is demanding. But the Lakers do still have Gasol as a centerpiece, who could either replace Paul as the Hornets’ franchise player or give New Orleans a top-20 player to be dangled in subsequent deals.

The Clippers are doing this on their own terms and picked up Chauncey Billups off waivers, which gave them even more leverage, as Adrian Wojnarowski reports at Yahoo.com.

Clippers officials and NBA executives representing the Hornets have continued to have conversations, but the tone and substance of the talks has dramatically changed with L.A.’s addition of point guard Chauncey, sources said. The Clippers are selling the NBA on the idea that the market for Paul has shrunk and the league’s demands have to be lowered, too….

“They’re scrambling now,” one official said of the NBA. “But it’s still hard to tell if they really want to trade him, or they’re just determined to keep the asking price in a place where they can hold onto him for the next owner. …These guys in New York had no idea how hard this process would be.”

That’s where we sit Tuesday night. Waiting. The Clippers could go into the season with Billups, Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe at point guard — with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and Eric Gordon — and be a likely playoff team in the West. They are not feeling the pressure. The Lakers are trying to find a third team to get some younger pieces, but they are not under great pressure to get a deal done either (they always have Dwight Howard to chase).

In the Clippers case, the league wanted Chris Kaman (an expiring contract) plus Gordon, Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick (to which the Clippers have the rights). The Clippers were not willing to give up all five things before they got Billups. Now rumors of Trevor Ariza coming to the Clippers and Mo Williams going to the Hornets are out there, Stein reports, but all kinds of ideas have been bounced around. That is different than one getting done.

The league might be willing to keep Paul through the sale of the Hornets. As if that would boost the value of the team (nobody is buying that team thinking Paul is staying). Who knows? It’s hard to see what the league is thinking.

So we wait. Because the Clippers have the leverage.