NEW ORLEANS - APRIL 24: Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets looks to shoot in front of Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at New Orleans Arena on April 24, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
All day the New Orleans Hornets have been staging a Chris Paul auction, and it seemed for a while that the Lakers had dropped out. The Clippers or Warriors appeared to have emerged by late afternoon as CP3's most likely landing spots. But according to David Aldridge it's still too early to count out the Lake Show:
The Los Angeles Lakers are not out of the Chris Paul Sweepstakes.
A league source involved in the discussions said late Tuesday night that the Lakers are still among the teams the New Orleans Hornets are having advanced discussions with on a potential trade of Paul, the four-time All-Star guard who is seeking a trade after spending his first six seasons in the Big Easy.
The Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Celtics currently have a leg up on other teams that are trying to acquire Paul. Yahoo! Sports had reported earlier Tuesday that the Clippers, Warriors and Celtics had the three best offers on the table for Paul. The Lakers' potential offer would send either center Andrew Bynum or forward Pau Gasol along with forward Lamar Odom to the Hornets for Paul.
Hmm. A 2-for-1 trade wouldn't work under the salary cap. The Lakers would have to take back another piece, and presumably they'd insist it be Emeka Okafor. Otherwise the depth chart is nearly blank at the four and five positions. Any such deal might spell the end of the Lakers' pursuit of Dwight Howard, as it's dicey whether Orlando would accept either Drew or Pau straight up without the Odom sweetener. My hunch is, Mitch passes on CP3 and keeps his powder dry for Dwight.
The Lakers' intent to chase both superstars generated considerable skepticism from rival teams, given that center Andrew Bynum ranks as the Lakers' only highly coveted young trade asset. However, one source told ESPN.com late Tuesday that the Hornets have not yet ruled out accepting a trade package headlined by Pau Gasol. That would theoretically free up L.A. to build an offer for Howard around Bynum and a package for Paul around Gasol, although it remains unclear how the Lakers could make two separate offers sufficiently attractive to pull off what would rank as a tremendous trade haul.