Try as they might, the Clippers haven't worked out a trade deal for… (Gerald Herbert / Associated…)
The hot-and-cold discussions involving All-Star guard Chris Paul coming to the Clippers took a turn toward the tepid, as the NBA reached out Tuesday.
The league, which has taken over the talks from New Orleans Hornets General Manager Dell Demps, initiated phone conversations with the Clippers on Tuesday afternoon, said a person who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, although no proposals were exchanged.
The NBA, which operates the Hornets, refused to move off its position of wanting Eric Gordon and the Clippers' No. 1 unprotected draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the person said.
The Clippers, once again, told the NBA that they wouldn't trade Gordon.
The Clippers were more than willing to send New Orleans center Chris Kaman, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu, second-year point guard Eric Bledsoe and the first-round draft pick to the Hornets.
Talks broke down Monday morning when the Clippers pulled out of the deal because they thought the Hornets had asked for too much.
Paul, who will earn $16.3 million this season, has told the Clippers he would pick up his option for next season at $17.7 million.
The Clippers held their media day Tuesday, and the players on hand were unable to get away from discussing Paul, a four-time All-Star.
"We'd love to have him," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "But if it doesn't work out, everybody on this team knows that we're ready to roll with this team."
It also made for some uneasy moments Tuesday for those involved in the trade speculation.
The usually talkative Kaman, whose name always has been in the deal, didn't speak to the media.
Neil Olshey, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations, didn't speak much about the Paul issue.
"Clearly, a player of Chris Paul's caliber ... if you pick up the phone, you're going to have to listen to what somebody has to say," he said. "We're not actively making phone calls trying to acquire any new players at this point."
Olshey is upbeat because he likes their current roster. That includes the team's decision to bring back restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan by matching the offer Jordan got from Golden State, worth $42.3 million over four years.
The Clippers also won the waiver auction Monday for Chauncey Billups, a veteran point guard who has won big games and is known to have a positive presence in the locker room.
Billups, 35, was waived by the Knicks under the NBA's new amnesty provision. The Clippers won the bidding process by offering a little more than $2 million.
The Clippers said Billups will be at practice Wednesday. The Clippers can't trade him, so he'll be with the team unless he gets waived this season.
With Griffin, Mo Williams, Randy Foye, free-agent acquisition Caron Butler and the rest of the team, Olshey feels good about their prospects.
"We think that we've got a product on the floor right now that's given a lot of people in the Western Conference pause," he said. "We've got a lot of depth. We've got quality veterans. We've got really good young players."
One of them is Gordon. Olshey said they will try to sign him to an extension.
Gordon, who will be 23 Christmas Day, tried to avoid the trade rumors.
"I can't worry about it until it happens," Gordon said. "I'm just a basketball player and whether I'm here or there, it doesn't matter."
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro has some decisions to make. Will he start Williams or Billups at point guard?
"Mo is going to get a ton of minutes," Del Negro said. "Guys are going to get a ton of minutes."
Will he start Jordan or Kaman at center?
"Chris has been a starter. DeAndre started a lot last year. We'll work that out," Del Negro said.