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While the New Orleans Hornets hope to revive trade talks involving four-time All-Star Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers, a league source tells TNT’s David Aldridge that the Clippers have “moved on” and are not, at the moment, interested in restarting the discussions.
Sources late Monday night indicated that the Hornets — whose negotiations for Paul are being handled by the NBA, which owns the team — believed there was still a chance that they could find common ground with the Clippers on a deal. But a source directly involved in the negotiations said early Tuesday morning that it was doubtful the Hornets would compromise enough for Los Angeles to be interested.
“I don’t know that they can come back far enough,” the source said.
Trade talks are notorious for their fits and starts, and while the talks currently are dormant, the possibility they can warm up again quickly must not be overlooked. However, the Clippers are adamant that they will not part with both promising two guard Eric Gordon and the unprotected 2012 first-round pick from Minnesota that they control. The 2012 Draft is expected to be one of the deepest in recent years. The league has asked for both, along with center Chris Kaman, second-year forward Al-Faroqu Aminu and second-year guard Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Paul, who has been seeking a trade while not publicly asking for one.
The Clippers, the source said, are “even happier” with their team after claiming guard Chauncey Billups off the amnesty waiver wire Monday. Los Angeles claimed Billups despite the guard’s strongly stated desire not to be claimed by anyone off waivers, which would allow him to go to a team of his choosing.
Before the Clippers claimed Billups, the NBA sent an e-mail to teams on Monday that threatened discipline against him if he refused to report to a team that claimed him in the waiver pool or was disruptive to that team after reporting.
According to the e-mail, the league warned Billups and his agent, Andy Miller, on Monday that any statements made concerning not reporting to a team or being disruptive would be viewed as a breach of Billups’ contract, and that the NBA ”is reserving all of its rights to take appropriate action against the player for his efforts to undermine the waiver process and the contractual rights of both the waiving team and any claiming team. Please also be advised that the NBA will fully support any team that claims Mr. Billups’ contract in the amnesty/waiver process and that subsequently believes it has grounds for discipline of Mr. Billups for breach of that contract.”
Miller, according to several sources, sent a letter to teams over the weekend that reiterated that Billups would be unhappy if anyone claimed him out of the waiver pool (for at least $1.35 million, the minimum for 10-plus year veterans like Billups) after being released by New York on Saturday via the amnesty provision. Miller did not respond to e-mails and calls seeking comment Monday.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Saturday, Billups said he was “tired of being the glue guy” and said he was tired of being taken advantage of by teams who have thrown him into deals in recent seasons, such as when the Nuggets included him in the Carmelo Anthony deal to the Knicks last season. Billups is a Denver-area native who was pained to leave his hometown team not of his own volition.
“After a while, you just kind of get taken advantage of in these situations,” Billups told Yahoo!. “I’ve been known as a leader, and I am a leader, but a leader can be as disruptive as he can be productive, especially when you carry a strong voice and people rally around you. This is about me now. This is about me, and teams should know that right now.”
League sources believe that Billups wanted to clear the waiver pool so that he could sign with Miami or another contending team when the waiver claim time period expired at 6 p.m. Monday evening. Earlier Monday, ESPN.com reported that Orlando’s Dwight Howard wanted the Magic to claim Billups as part of remaking the roster in a way more to Howard’s liking as he contemplates whether to stay there after next season. Howard asked for a trade last week and was given permission by the Magic to talk with the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets about a potential deal.
The league’s e-mail said that Billups could choose to retire rather than report to a claiming team, though it would absolve the team that claimed him from having to pay his salary.