After acquiring one of the elite point guards in the NBA before last season, the Los Angeles Clippers went from a mediocre basketball team led by up-and-comer Blake Griffin to one of the most promising squads in the league with Chris Paul leading the way in the backcourt.
Before landing Paul from the New Orleans Hornets, the Clippers weren’t exactly considered a contender to bring him in via trade. The Los Angeles Lakers on the other hand were making moves and planning to upgrade the roster with an All-Star caliber floor general. Paul fit the description and was high up on the list of potential trade candidates for the Lakers.
As usual, the Lakers were able to put together a compelling trade package in a three-team deal, including the Houston Rockets, in order to acquire Paul. The deal seemed to be set in stone with only the league’s approval needed to make it official.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the NBA decided to veto the trade for “basketball reasons” and Paul ultimately landed with the Clippers as a result.
Even though Paul was initially excited about the prospect of playing alongside Kobe Bryant and the opportunity to play on a championship-caliber team, the six-time NBA All-Star claims that he preferred to play for the Clippers over the Lakers in an interview with GQ magazine via Melissa Rohlin of the L.A. Times:
“They had the better pieces,” Paul said. “And winning with the Clippers would be legendary.”
It’s hard to believe Paul with the comments he’s made in this interview. There’s no doubt that the Clippers had some promising pieces to build around with Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Eric Bledsoe and Chauncey Billups in the fold, but saying that he’d rather land with a franchise that has never been an NBA title contender over one that has won 16 championships doesn’t make much sense.
The pairing of Kobe and Paul in the backcourt with Bynum in the paint has perennial NBA title contender written all over it. Obviously, the bench needed work and Pau Gasol would be missed at power forward, but GM Mitch Kupchak definitely would’ve continued to make moves as he did over the last few months.
Of course, Paul admitting he preferred the Lakers over the Clippers isn’t in his best interest moving forward. This response isn’t much of a surprise with clear loyalty to the Clippers after last season’s success and the five-year deal he’ll almost certainly sign with the team next summer.
In case you missed it: check out where Kobe Bryant and other Lakers like to call home in L.A.