Clippers are close to deal for Chris Paul with Hornets

The Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets were working vigorously Sunday night to consummate a blockbuster deal that would send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers’ cross-town rivals, said two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The deal hasn’t been completed, but both sides were in the closing stages of the negotiations.

The Clippers would send the Hornets center Chris Kaman, backup second-year guard Eric Bledsoe, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the No. 1 draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves that is unprotected in the 2012 draft, considered to be one of the best in recent years.


Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA have to sign off on the deal.

A package from the Lakers for Paul was turned down by the league.

The NBA will probably review the Clippers deal Monday.

What may actually help the Clippers get the deal done are the young players involved and a potential top-flight draft pick.

When the Clippers and Hornets talked about a deal involving Paul last week, New Orleans had expressed interest in Eric Gordon. However, the Clippers didn’t want to part with the 6-foot-3 guard who turns 23 on Christmas Day, because they consider him one of the NBA’s top-five shooting guards.

He is not part of the deal that is currently being discussed.

Bledsoe just turned 22, but he will be out until late January recovering from surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.

Aminu is 21 and Kaman is 29, but he’s also in the final year of a contract that pays him $12.7 million, which makes him appealing.

The Clippers are aware that Paul, who will earn $16 million this season, can opt out of his contract this summer that pays him $17 million for the 2012-13 season.

The Clippers would love for Paul to sign an extension with them so they don’t have him for just one season. If he doesn’t agree to the extension, they hope he will pick up his option for next season.

Paul was involved in a trade to send him to the Lakers for Lamar Odom that involved three teams that was ultimately blocked by the NBA on Thursday.

It was a deal that would have sent Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets, who in turn would have sent three players and a draft pick to the Hornets.

But the NBA killed that deal Thursday, opening the door for the Clippers to step back in.

Paul had called the NBA players’ union and threatened legal action against the league for stopping the deal.

Paul is considered one of the top point guards in the NBA and the idea of putting him together with Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin would be hard for the Clippers to pass up.

Paul has averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 assists a game over his six-year career.

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro was asked about Paul earlier Sunday at the team’s first of two practice sessions.

Del Negro never mentioned Paul’s name and didn’t talk about what it might take to get the All-Star guard to the Clippers

“We’re always looking to improve our team and if there’s an opportunity there, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to listen,” Del Negro said after Sunday’s practice. “But I’m pleased with the guys that we have here now. We’ll make our adjustments as we see fit. If there are opportunities, we’re going to take a look at them.”

Jordan offer

The Clippers finally got the offer sheet Sunday afternoon that restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan signed with the Golden State Warriors for four years and $43 million.

The Clippers, who plan on matching the offer sheet or risk losing the 6-foot-11 Jordan, have three days to make a decision.