Lakers reportedly pull out of Paul deal

The Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night pulled out of the three-team trade that would have seen them acquire star New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, ESPN reported, citing sources.

The Lakers, Hornets and Houston Rockets had been working for the past two days on a reconfigured version of the trade that NBA commissioner David Stern nixed on Thursday.

The Lakers had agreed to send Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom to New Orleans as part of the original proposed deal. The Rockets would have traded Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic to the Hornets. New Orleans also would have obtained a 2012 first-round pick from Houston.

The Lakers will now trade Odom to the Dallas Mavericks into the exception created by the Tyson Chandler trade to the New York Knicks, the report said.

It was not immediately known why the Lakers pulled out of the deal, but an unnamed Western Conference executive told Yahoo! Sports the team was now shifting towards trying to make a deal for All-Star Magic center Dwight Howard.

It was reported earlier Saturday that Howard had formally requested a trade from Orlando, with his preference being the New Jersey Nets.

Stern was forced to defuse a storm of criticism over the league’s veto of the initial three-team deal. In a statement issued Friday, Stern said the league’s decision, since it owns the Hornets, was in the "best interests" of the team from a basketball standpoint.

The New York Times reported Friday the NBA had directed Hornets general manager Dell Demps to find a younger set of players in exchange for Paul to better ensure the long-term success of the Hornets.

The Hornets are trying to trade Paul because the 26-year-old has made it apparent he will not sign an extension, and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

The team’s trading partners are limited, however, because no team will trade for Paul unless he commits to signing a long-term deal.