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Talks for Paul turn into 'circus'

Chris Paul looked destined to be traded to Los Angeles for the third time in four days on Sunday night, when two SI.com sources confirmed that the Clippers were closing in on a deal to acquire the New Orleans point guard and four-time All-Star.

But as the proposed deal reached the NBA's hands for approval Monday morning, talks became dicey a source close to the situation only said, "This is a circus."

As the NBA mulled the proposal Monday there were reports that the deal was dying. Yahoo! Sports reported that the Clippers rejected commissioner David Stern's "steep demands" and the talks were dead.

The Los Angeles Times reported late Sunday night that the deal was in its final stages and that the Hornets would receive second-year Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, veteran center Chris Kaman, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the Clippers' unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick that they received from Minnesota. One source close to the talks, however, told SI.com that shooting guard Eric Gordon could be part of the deal as well.

The Clippers and Hornets had re-engaged in discussions Sunday, and a source close to Bledsoe said late that night that he was under the impression a deal had been agreed upon and that he would likely be traded to the Hornets. When reached by phone late Sunday and asked if an agreement in principle had been reached, Clippers president Andy Roeser declined comment to SI.com. ESPN.com reported early Monday that the proposed deal was submitted to the league's front office for approval. In any other case, it would be a mere formality that the deal be presented to the team's owner. But it takes on a new meaning with the Hornets, since they're owned by the league.

While Paul had long hoped he could wind up with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in New York, sources close to Paul have previously told SI.com that Los Angeles -- either with the Clippers or Lakers -- is a desirable long-term landing spot, as well. Because Paul can become a free agent next summer, teams are looking for some assurance that he would eventually commit beyond this season.

Paul is known to be open to joining the Clippers long-term, but the supporting cast was likely taken into consideration when engaging in discussions with a franchise that has been a laughingstock for so long. While reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin is the centerpiece of the team's new core, Gordon -- whom the Clippers did not want to give up when the two teams talked last week, according to the L.A. Times -- and restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan and are also key components.

And that's where it gets interesting: Jordan signed a four-year, $43 million offer sheet from Golden State on Sunday, according to this agent, Greg Lawrence. After seeing center Tyson Chandler sign with New York this week, the Warriors went after Jordan, banking on his athleticism and potential to improve upon his seven points and seven rebounds per game last season.

In order to free salary-cap room for the Jordan offer, the Warriors used their amnesty clause on veteran guard Charlie Bell and rescinded a qualifying offer to guard/forward Reggie Williams. Sources had confirmed that the Clippers gave Jordan a five-year, $40 million offer recently, and they will now have three days to match the Warriors' offer.

One source close to the Paul situation predicted the Clippers would match, noting that Jordan is a vital piece to their young core.

The first two failed trade attempts would have sent Paul to the Lakers, but NBA commissioner and de facto Hornets owner David Stern vetoed the first proposal and the Lakers backed out of the second when they failed to reach the league's requests in a revised deal.

The Hornets seemed focused solely on the Clippers after the second trade attempt with the Lakers fell through. Sources said Golden State had not re-engaged in the discussions for Paul in any meaningful way. Boston was also among the teams pushing hard for Paul, but one of the principles of a Celtics proposal -- forward Jeff Green -- was signed to a one-year, $9 million deal on Saturday and cannot be traded by Boston for six months.

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