Hornets, Clippers agree on trade for PG Chris Paul

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Paul will earn $16.4 million this year and has a player option for the 2012-13 season _ in which he is due $17.8 million.

The Hornets get a prolific young shooting guard in Gordon, who turns 23 on Christmas Day and averaged 22.3 points last season. Gordon would be a restricted free agent after this season unless he signs an extension with New Orleans. Hornets general manager Dell Demps said those talks haven’t yet started.

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, but played in only 32 games because of a left ankle injury. He’s in the last year of his contract, which will pay him $12.2 million this season.

“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 (another) first-round pick,” Demps said. “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.”

ESPN, citing anonymous sources, first reported the trade, which also involves New Orleans sending two 2015 second-round draft picks to the Clippers.

“We wanted to make sure that we got the best possible deal for a player of Chris‘ caliber, and we feel great about the outcome,” said Jac Sperling, who Stern appointed as the Hornets‘ governor after the league bought the team in December 2010.

The Hornets can only hope the deal will sit well with fans and area businesspeople, who bought more than 10,000 season tickets despite the lockout in an effort to show the NBA that their community could make the franchise viable for whatever ownership group eventually buys the club.

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 to avoid losing him in free agency with no compensation after this season.

Demps came close to making a three-team deal last Thursday that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. The Lakers would have sent Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Pau Gasol to Houston, while the Rockets would have sent Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, 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 do better, both in terms of personnel and salary obligations.

While the move caused speculation that Stern was acting against Demps’ better judgment, Demps said he and Stern were acting “hand in hand,” while Stern said people who anonymously leaked details of the proposed Lakers trade did so because they “were trying to force him to make that deal.”

Paul showed up for Hornets training camp last Friday but has not spoken to reporters since. He was excused from a normally mandatory media event on Wednesday, hours before the trade went through, in which players pose for photos in uniform and talk about the upcoming season.

For the Hornets, the urgency to make a deal appeared to be growing, though Demps insisted earlier Wednesday that the Hornets had no timeline and would not be rushed into a “rash decision.”

Still, Demps acknowledged it was hard for the Hornets to pursue free agents and further build their roster while Paul’s status was in limbo. If trade talks had dragged on much longer, the Hornets could have gone into Friday night’s preseason opener at Memphis with little idea of what their roster would look like in their first regular-season game at Phoenix on Dec. 26.

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