Trade talks involving Chris Paul between the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers were believed to be dead Monday afternoon -- and the Clippers' winning amnesty bid for Chauncey Billups announced Monday evening seemed to put the nail in the coffin.
But wait! Billups' arrival may allow the Clips to sweeten their offer for Paul. At least, that's the logic that league sources are telling Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
The Chris Paul talks that would never die were revived Monday night, with a twist that was enraging some rival general managers. The Clippers' winning waiver claim on Chauncey Billups allowed them to include point guard Eric Bledsoe in the deal, which could push it over the finish line, league sources told CBSSports.com.
By claiming Billups for about $2 million, the Clippers were able to solve the dilemma of not having another point guard on the roster -- Mo Williams likely slides into the Jason Terry sixth man role, if he isn't included in the trade or waived with amnesty. Thus, L.A. could responsibly include Bledsoe in a blockbuster package for Paul. Given that the league already has vetoed a previous three-team trade that would've sent Paul to the Lakers, executives brokering the deal for the owner-less Hornets "have nowhere else to go," said a person familiar with the negotiations.
"They have no choice" but to make sure Paul is traded to the Clippers, the person said.
But here's the rub: Billups has already threatened to retire if he was claimed, let alone claimed by a team intending to move him to the bench. "I've got a few good years left to play, and I'm not trying to come in and sit on the bench, or be a mentor," he said in an interview with Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. "I'm not going to be that guy. I want to go somewhere and win. I want to choose."
If the Clippers trade for Paul without including Eric Gordon (a reported deal-breaker) and keep Mo Williams, Billups would be the third or fourth man in a four-guard rotation. That'd be incredible depth for the Clippers ... but incredibly frustrating for Billups. If Williams is dumped, a three-guard rotation in which three players play roughly 32 minutes might work, so long as Billups is sold on the Clippers being able to contend, which shouldn't be taken for granted considering they won just 32 games in 2010-11.
Couldn't the Clippers simply trade Billups to a team he's willing to play for? Unfortunately, no. Players acquired via amnesty waivers are ineligible to be traded until July 1. This is apparently a point of confusion among some league executives, which almost makes you wonder if the Clippers realized as much when placing their bid.
All of this is moot if Billups doesn't follow through on his threat, but between his own statements and those from his agent Andy Miller, the Clippers can't anything for granted until the day he shows up. So while trade talks might be revived for now, don't expect any actual moves until this is resolved.