After a three-team trade that would have landed Paul in purple and gold was vetoed by the NBA, Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com are reporting that the Lakers are back in discussions with the Hornets.
The Clippers are in hot pursuit of Paul as well, and although talks were thought to have cooled, negotiations remain anything but dead.
Rarely, if ever, have we seen both Los Angeles teams actively pursuing the same player. We have most certainly never seen this type of competition between the cross-town rivals, and one has to wonder who is going to come out on top.
Though history would suggest the Lakers will trump the Clippers' hopes, this time around is different. This is going to come down to who boasts the better available assets, and such a victory would be anything but a landslide for the Lakers.
In the original three-team deal, the Lakers were shipping out Lamar Odom to New Orleans and Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets, and receiving Paul in return. Odom is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, but the Lakers do still have Gasol, and could also throw Bynum into the mix.
Additionally, in the original three-team deal, the Hornets also received Kevin Martin and Luis Scola from Houston.
On the Clippers' part, there has been no clear-cut deal in place that would land them the star point guard. The Hornets were asking the team to part with their five-most prized assets in Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and the Minnesota Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick.
The Clippers quickly squashed the idea of dealing all those assets without receiving any guarantees from Paul. Instead, they have remained determined to hold onto either Gordon or that first-round pick.
When looking at what each team can offer, it is abundantly clear that Lakers' assets can help New Orleans remain competitive now. While the Hornets may not be high on Gasol, he would help them land proven players Scola and Martin from the Rockets.
The only problem here is that New Orleans is not looking for proven, it is looking for a surplus of young assets to build around. And if that is indeed the case, the Lakers' proposal does not hold a candle to the Clippers'.
Scola and Martin are both great athletes, but they are 28 and 31, respectively. They may be far from ancient, but neither fits the bill of a budding young prospect. Additionally, the Lakers have now one less valuable trade chip after shipping Odom to the Mavericks.
Odom's exclusion is far from a deal-breaker, but that is part of the problem. The Hornets were not thrilled about Odom either, as he is 32. Bynum, at 26, presents a young trade chip, but the team may be hesitant to move a player who can be as dominant as him.
When it comes to the Clippers though, there is no shortage of youngsters. Kaman is the eldest player the team would be shipping out, but he is only 29, and valued more for his expiring contract.
So, who has the better assets to acquire Paul? That comes down to what the Hornets are looking to get back in return. If they want to remain competitive now, the Lakers are the clear choice, but if they are hoping to build for the future, the Clippers are the route to take.
New Orleans is indeed seeking the latter in return, essentially meaning that for the first time ever, the Clippers' potential for victory trumps that of the Lakers'.
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