By Matt Moore
2:25 p.m.: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the deal has "died" according to a source. The consensus among reports is that the league demanded too much. At this point it's unclear what exactly they're looking for since any combination on the table was good enough to justify the trade. The nonsense continues.
1:52 p.m.: Now, just like that, according to multiple outlets, the deal is pretty much off. Apparently the NBA's asking price is just far too steep for the Clippers.
10:10 a.m.: And the confusion continues. Yahoo now reports Gordon is not included in the deal, as the L.A. Times reported last night. No word on Bledsoe.
Update 9:00 a.m.: ESPN is reporting that A. Eric Gordon is included in the package and B. Eric Bledsoe is not, which may cause the league to reject. Neither of these statements make sense, so something must get clarified in the next few hours. We'll keep you updated.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the L.A. Clippers are "close" to a deal for Chris Paul, just days after talks with the Lakers fell apart and less than a week after the league rejected an offer from the Lakers agreed to in a three-way with New Orleans and Houston.
The Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets were working vigorously Sunday night to consummate a blockbuster deal that would send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers' cross-town rivals, said two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak on the matter.via Clippers are close to deal for Chris Paul with Hornets - latimes.com.
The deal hasn't been completed, but both sides were in the closing stages of the negotiations.
The Clippers would send the Hornets center Chris Kaman, backup second-year guard Eric Bledsoe, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the No. 1 draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves that is unprotected in the 2012 draft, considered to be one of the best in recent years.
Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA have to sign off on the deal.
SI.com notes that Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe told associates that he was headed to New Orleans.
A huge element here is that Eric Gordon is not included in the deal as constructed, which leads to two questions:
A. Is that enough for the league not to block the trade?
B. How good would that team be?
In reverse, you'd be looking at the best pure point guard in the league teamed with the most devastating pick and roll power forward in the conference and a near-All-Star perimeter scorer. In, short, it's terrifying how instantly good that team gets, with DeAndre Jordan (should the Clippers match the $44 million offer sheet from Golden State) and Caron Butler (even criminally overpaid). The Clippers would shake off their reputation for once.
But is it enough? The absence of Gordon might be a deal breaker. He's a young star. Great. Excellent. Near All-Star. But not an All-Star, and not worth CP3. His absence isn't justified by his talent, but his talent might necessitate his involvement.
The deal would have huge ramifications across the league, particularly for teams like Boston and Los Angeles, both vying for the All-Star point guard. The Hornets would get the kind of package they actually need, versus the veteran platter of above-average-but-not-great, aging players they were picking up in the Lakers-Rockets tree-way. Al Farouq-Amnu is a hyper-athletic freak with polish, Bledsoe showed great flashes last year, and Kaman would serve as an excellent expiring contract at the deadline. The picks they would pick up would be in one of the best draft classes in the past decade, and they could very well end up with two top-five picks in a stellar class. A combination of Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes, for example, could put New Orleans on the path to recovery very quickly.
In short, both teams would win here, even if the package doesn't "seem" better.
The only question now is if they can cross the finish line and shock the world. The Clippers are on the verge of changing the culture of the NBA with three little characters: CP3.