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Clips, Warriors, Celtics in Paul trade talks

As the New Orleans Hornets push closer to making a decision on where to trade Chris Paul(notes), the All-Star point guard has indicated the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors could significantly raise their chances of keeping him beyond this season if they also sign center Tyson Chandler(notes), league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.

Paul hasn’t promised he would re-sign with one of those teams following the 2011-12 season if they acquired Chandler, but league sources said Chandler could make a significant difference in ultimately swaying Paul to commit to a long-term deal.

Three teams in pursuit of Paul believe the Hornets will push for final offers – and make a decision – by the start of training camp on Friday, front-office sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Clippers' and Warriors' packages are the most intriguing to New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, league sources said.

So far, talks between the Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers have gathered little, if any, traction, sources said. The Boston Celtics remain aggressive in their pursuit of Paul and held discussions with New Orleans on Tuesday.

As New Orleans prepared to make a trade that could clear significantly more salary cap space for them, Hornets officials have reached out to see if they could still get involved in contract negotiations with free-agent center Nene and point guard J.J. Barea, league sources said.

Nene’s bidding could be pushing upwards of $14 million a season, with the Nuggets re-emerging as a serious suitor to keep him, sources said. The New Jersey Nets, Rockets and Indiana Pacers have yet to show a willingness to spend $14 million-$15 million a year to sign Nene, and that could ultimately leave him destined to return to the Nuggets. Still, many teams have yet to extend their best offers in free-agent talks.

"Dell has to figure out what he wants," one team official in the talks said. "Does he want to rebuild, get players to flip [in other trades], or just fit guys into their roster. It's up to New Orleans to decide the package they want now. No one wants this to extend into training camp – not them, or us."

The Hornets were significantly engaged in talks with the Clippers in talks on Tuesday, but the Clippers have shown no desire to meet Chandler's request for a contract starting at more than $12 million a year, sources said. The Clippers are worried about an ability to pay significant money to Blake Griffin(notes), Eric Gordon(notes), Paul and Chandler over the long term.

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The Clippers would have to include 23-year-old restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan(notes) in a package to get Paul, along with forward Al-Farouq Aminu(notes), guard Eric Bledsoe(notes) and the 2012 first-round pick they acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers are more attractive to Paul than the Warriors or Boston Celtics, because of the chance to be paired with Griffin and Gordon. Golden State has been aggressive in its pursuit of Chandler independent of Paul, but the Warriors don’t have as appealing a supporting cast for Paul. The Warriors' offer for Paul is centered around Stephen Curry(notes) and rookie guard Klay Thompson(notes).

The Hornets consider the Clippers and Warriors to have the most desirable trade assets, but Paul has been hesitant to commit to remaining with either team unless they surround him with enough talent. Paul's ultimate hope has been a long-term pairing with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard(notes), but Paul did play three seasons with Chandler in New Orleans, where they came within a game of reaching the 2008 Western Conference finals.

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As constituted, the Hornets prefer the Clippers and Warriors packages, but were still discussing several scenarios with the Celtics – including third-team trade possibilities and sign-and-trade money for restricted free agent forward Jeff Green(notes). The Hornets prefer Curry to Rajon Rondo(notes), sources said, but a third team could sweeten the Celtics package beyond the core of Rondo and Green.

The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks also have aggressively pursued Paul. Dallas remains a long shot in the talks, but has been canvassing other teams for players that would interest the Hornets.

The Rockets would offer some combination of Kevin Martin(notes), Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola(notes), Patrick Paterson and draft picks. The Clippers are intriguing to the Hornets because of the possibility of the emerging young Jordan, who would likely receive a $45 million-$50 million, five-year contract in a sign-and-trade deal.

If the Clippers don't trade for Paul, they will try to ultimately sell him on signing with them as a free agent in July, with the allure of Jordan on a less expensive long-term deal than they would have to pay Chandler now.

Yahoo! Sports NBA reporter Marc J. Spears contributed to this report.

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