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Paul’s trade to Clippers is finally approved

Associated Press / December 15, 2011
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Chris Paul is headed to Los Angeles for real this time - to the Clippers, not the Lakers.

The Hornets traded Paul to the Clippers for guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, center Chris Kaman, and a 2012 first-round draft choice.

The deal required the approval of commissioner David Stern because the Hornets are owned by the league.

With this trade, Stern said “the future of the Hornets in New Orleans is brighter than it’s ever been.’’

The 26-year-old Paul is a four-time All-Star who averaged 18.7 points and 9.8 assists last season, his sixth in the NBA. His move to the Clippers means he’ll now be able to make alley-oop lobs to a young star famous for dunking over a car. That would be forward Blake Griffin, who averaged 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds last season, his first in the NBA.

The Hornets, meanwhile, get a prolific young shooting guard in Gordon, who turns 23 on Christmas Day and averaged 22.3 points last season. The 6-foot-9-inch Aminu is a second-year pro who averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds as a rookie.

The 7-foot Kaman, 29, is an eight-year veteran who averaged 12.4 points and seven rebounds last season, but played in only 32 games because of a left ankle injury.

“With this trade, we now have three additional players who were among the top eight draft picks in their respective drafts as well as our own first-round pick and Minnesota’s first round pick,’’ Hornets general manager Dell Demps said in a statement. “Aminu is a young talent with a bright future, Gordon is a big-time scorer and one of the best [shooting] guards in the league and Kaman is a proven center and former All-Star. We will field a competitive team and our future looks great.’’

Paul, whom the Hornets drafted fourth overall in 2005, told New Orleans earlier this month that he was not going to sign an extension, and Demps had been trying to trade him since.

Demps came close to making a deal with the Lakers last Thursday in which LA would have sent Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Pau Gasol to Houston, while the Rockets would have sent Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic, and a first-round draft choice to New Orleans.

Stern, however, told Demps to take that deal off the table because he thought the Hornets could get a better deal. Last night, Stern felt he got a better deal.

“I knew we were doing the best thing for New Orleans and that was my job,’’ Stern said. “You have to stick with what you think was right. I must confess it wasn’t a lot of fun, but I don’t get paid to have fun.’’

Howard staying put

General manager Otis Smith said the team’s goal remains to keep Dwight Howard in a Magic uniform as long as they possibly can and that the trade talks “could go to the end of the season.’’

Smith would not say whether trade talks for the center are off, but did say there was no deal in place.

“We’re at the same place we’ve always been,’’ Smith said. “We don’t have a deal until we have a deal. Right now we still have him in a Magic uniform, and that’s where we expect him to be until that changes.’’

Howard, who is entering the last year of his contract, confirmed over the weekend that he had requested a trade to New Jersey, Dallas, or the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the 26-year-old center has since publicly softened his stance, saying he would be amenable to remaining in Orlando.

The Magic have said they will not risk losing Howard without compensation, which means they must either sign him or deal him before the March trading deadline.

Amnesty claims Davis

The Cavaliers waived veteran point guard Baron Davis, using the new “amnesty clause’’ to clear space under the salary cap. Davis, acquired in a trade last season from the Clippers, is now a free agent. The 32-year-old will be paid $28 million owed over the next two seasons. He has not been able to practice because of a bulging back disk. The injury had no impact on the decision to release Davis. With Davis gone, coach Byron Scott can now turn his offense over to rookie Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall draft pick . . . Veteran guard Richard Hamilton signed with the Bulls. Terms of the deal were not released but several media sources citing people familiar with the situation said the former UConn star got a three-year, $15 million deal . . . The Lakers signed free agent forward Josh McRoberts to a two-year contract. McRoberts, a four-year NBA veteran, spent the past three seasons with the Pacers . . . The Timberwolves officially signed point guard J.J. Barea to a four-year deal.

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