Sources: C's have strongest offer for Paul

The latest on the Chris Paul situation from ESPN.com's Marc Stein:

Various executives believe that the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are thus the two most likely landing spots for Paul, but sources with knowledge of New Orleans' thinking said late Wednesday that the Hornets are prepared to wait for offers to improve, convinced that they they're getting low-ball proposals at this early stage of the process based on the external belief that they're so motivated to move Paul they will rush into a deal.

The Celtics, sources say, are currently presenting the strongest offer, which features Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and two first-round picks. As the Paul pursuer most willing to trade for the All-Star point guard with zero assurance that Paul will stay beyond this season, Boston is also trying to concoct multi-team scenarios that would help the Hornets come away with the package they desire for Paul, featuring at least one established veteran to help them stay relevant, one up-and-coming talent and draft picks.

The Hornets' interest in Rondo is lukewarm at best, but one scenario in circulation would involve the Indiana Pacers and route former Hornets point guard Darren Collison back to New Orleans and land Rondo with the Pacers and Paul with the Celtics. Yet several other players would have to be involved to make such a deal work -- with more established talent going to New Orleans -- and there was no indication Wednesday that such a deal was close to completion.

Although sources say Paul continues to express no interest in a long-term stay in Boston, Celtics GM Danny Ainge is apparently convinced that trading for Paul now to try to make one more title run with the aging star trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen is a no-brainer gamble. With the contracts of Garnett and Allen expiring at season's end, Boston would have sufficient salary-cap space to not only try to retain Paul but also pursue a second young superstar to play with him.

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