Chris Paul deal falls apart, again
By BETH HARRIS Associated Press December 12, 2011 4:48PM
Updated: December 13, 2011 12:13AM
LOS ANGELES — The day began with the Los Angeles Clippers rejecting a proposed deal by the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul and it ended with them claiming five-time All-Star guard Chauncey Billups off waivers and re-signing center DeAndre Jordan.
General manager Neil Olshey said Monday the team felt “the cost was just too high” in what it would have to give up to acquire Paul.
Olshey declined to identify whom the Clippers had offered in exchange for Paul but their package reportedly included center Chris Kaman, reserve guard Eric Bledsoe, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and their No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. Reports suggested the Hornets also wanted guard Eric Gordon included.
“There wasn’t one piece or another piece that killed this deal,” Olshey said. “The aggregate compensation that we were going to have to convey to them was just too much and it was going to hamstring our franchise in the long term.”
It’s the second time in five days that a deal moving Paul to Los Angeles fell apart. Last week, NBA Commissioner David Stern nixed a three-team trade by the league-owned Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would have sent Paul to the Lakers.
“This is a superstar player that is obviously in a delicate situation with his current franchise,” Olshey said. “We just felt right now we’re just not going to be able to meet where we’re equally satisfied with the outcome.”
The Clippers used their remaining $3.5 million in salary cap room to claim Billups. The 35-year-old point guard was waived by the New York Knicks last weekend.
“We’ve tried eight, 10 times over the years to try and trade for Chauncey. It’s never worked out before,” Olshey said. “This is another great addition to our roster. He’s going to be a great fit with our guys.”
Billups averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 72 games with Denver and the Knicks last season. He was traded to New York in February. He helped lead Detroit to the NBA championship in 2004, when he was MVP of the finals.
Olshey said the decision to acquire Billups was independent of the team rejecting the Hornets’ offer.
“This is not a precursor to another move. This is not laying the groundwork for another opportunity,” he said.
The Clippers had a need for Billups since Bledsoe is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks while recovering from right knee surgery on Oct. 7.
“He has the ability to add a lot to our organization, on and off the court,” coach Vinny Del Negro said about Billups. “He’s not ready to retire. He has too much left in the tank.”
The team matched a $42.7 million, four-year offer sheet from the Golden State Warriors for restricted free agent Jordan, something Olshey told him they would do once they used their cap space.
The 23-year-old center appeared in a career-high 80 games last season, averaging 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.78 blocks while making 66 starts.
“He did a nice job for us last year. We’re expecting big things from him,” Del Negro said. “DeAndre brings a defensive presence for us, shot-blocking, he runs the court well, he’s very young still, he’s only going to get better.”
Olshey said the team would now turn its attention to discussions on signing Gordon to a contract extension.
The Clippers signed Caron Butler to a $24 million, three-year deal Friday, giving them a boost at small forward.
“This is a better team that’s on the floor now and in the future than what would have been put together had we had to convey the package that they had asked for,” Olshey said about the Hornets’ offer.