NEW ORLEANS – Chris Paul is headed to Los Angeles for real this time – to the Clippers, not the Lakers.
The Hornets traded Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, center Chris Kaman and a first-round draft choice.
The deal required the approval of NBA Commissioner David Stern because the Hornets are owned by the league.
So no more lame-duck practices – and ducking questions – in New Orleans.
The move puts an end to a tortured week in which the Hornets’ season sat in limbo while the NBA took a public relations beating over everything from potential conflicts of interest, to retarding the Hornets’ pursuit of free agents, to disrespecting the New Orleans fan base.
The Hornets at last have a measure of certainty about the roster they’ll have when the regular season begins in less than two weeks.
Paul, already a star with international appeal, gets to play in one of the NBA’s biggest markets, even if his new team plays in the shadow of the Lakers. That’s the club Paul was almost traded to last week, only to have Stern nix the deal and unleash a torrent of bad publicity on his league just as it was trying to generate good will following a nearly five-month labor dispute.
Then again, maybe there is no such thing as bad publicity. Even with the NFL’s Saints on a five-game winning streak and wrapping up a playoff spot, the Hornets and Paul ordeal were the talk of New Orleans for a change.
The 26-year-old Paul, a four-time All-Star, averaged 18.7 points and 9.8 assists last season, his sixth in the NBA. His move to the Clippers means he’ll make alley-oop lobs to a young star famous for dunking over a car – second-year forward Blake Griffin, who averaged 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds last season.
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 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, limited to 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 released by the team.
ESPN, citing anonymous sources, first reported the trade, which also involves New Orleans sending two future second-round draft picks to the Clippers.