Three-team deal in works to send Paul to Lakers
The Lakers, Hornets and Rockets are discussing a three-way trade that would send Chris Paul to L.A. and Pau Gasol to Houston, league sources told SI.com. The package New Orleans would receive is unclear, but a source said it would likely involve Rockets swingman Kevin Martin and multiple draft picks.
The Lakers have been in the hunt for Paul since the beginning, but L.A.'s refusal to include Andrew Bynum in any deal for Paul has prevented talks from advancing. The Lakers prefer to hold on to Bynum as the possible centerpiece of trade talks with Orlando for Dwight Howard. The Hornets are not interested in Gasol (who has three years and $57 million left on his deal), but in the last 48 hours they have put out feelers to try and gauge league-wide interest in the 31-year-old forward.
Houston has been been actively pursuing centers. Rockets officials have met with Nuggets big man Nene and Kings center Samuel Dalembert in the last week. While a source close to Nene said he has not made any decision, rival executives believe he is headed back to Denver, likely at a max or near-max deal. However, Houston and New Jersey are still in the mix for the big man. Houston wants Gasol, who would become the low post presence the Rockets have craved since Yao Ming went down with injuries.
Sources involved in the talks said the Hornets have been reluctant to close any deal until they are sure they have the best offer. A source said Boston has doubled its efforts in the last 24 hours to put together a three-team deal, built around point guard Rajon Rondo, that would satisfy the Hornets. A team source said the fact that Tyson Chandler is close to a deal with New York (at approximately $50 million over four years) -- which would effectively eliminate the Knicks ability to sign Paul outright as a free agent next summer -- has the Celtics' front office pushing harder, believing that if they can make a deal, GM Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers can convince Paul to sign long-term.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.