Gilbert Arenas Explains Why Chris Paul To Lakers Trade Was Vetoed
Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Lakers
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The trade that would have landed Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2011 is one of the biggest sore spots for fans of the franchise. The deal was famously vetoed by the NBA as the league owned the New Orleans Hornets at the time and thus had the power to do so, robbing fans of a legendary Chris Paul-Kobe Bryant backcourt.

Famously, NBA commissioner David Stearn termed ‘basketball reasons’ as why they chose to veto the deal, saying that the Hornets would be better keeping Paul and if there was a deal, it should be centered around younger players as opposed to the veterans the Lakers were sending over. There have also always been rumors that some of the owners called the league to complain about the deal, and former All-Star Gilbert Arenas has another idea on why it didn’t happen.

Arenas spoke with Paul on a recent episode of his “No Chill” Podcast. At the time, Arenas was a member of the Orlando Magic, who would soon be dealing Dwight Howard to the Lakers, and he believes that owners figured out that the Lakers were still set up with so much salary cap space that they couldn’t let the trade happen, via NBA Central:

“So when it got nixed, I’m like “Damn what happened?”. He [Dan Fagan] said it was unfair. He said, ‘What was in the background of all that was Dwight Howard being traded for Bynum.’ Remember, I’m in Orlando. I’m already talking to Otis [Orlando GM] and it was like, ‘Dwight don’t want to stay’. This was when the amnesty was coming. So Orlando, they’re trying to figure out if they were going to throw me in the deal and force [the] Lakers: if you want Dwight you’re gonna have to take Gilbert’s contract too. I was probably gonna get amnesty…basically, after all y’all superteam got together, y’all had too much money left. That was the reason it got nixed. So Dan Fagan hit Mark Cuban and did the numbers. It would have destroyed the league for at least 10 years. So if you went, Dwight went, you guys had 24-30 million dollars left in cap space. So at that time you’re talking about starting price about 12-13 million on a max contract. So you got 3 max players, and you can get 2 more max players.”

This is a different spin that hasn’t been talked about much, but it would give some more credence to the idea that owners called in to the league to complain about the deal. In addition to getting arguably the best point guard in the NBA at that time, the Lakers apparently still would have had plenty of salary-cap space to add around Kobe, Paul and Howard.

Just how true Arenas’ story is is unclear, but either way the sting of this vetoed trade remains strong for Lakers fans everywhere.

Rondo believes Lakers have built a great roster

As for the current edition of the Lakers, they have recently added another of the best point guards of that era in Rajon Rondo who is returning to the team after helping them win a championship in 2020. As for the roster he is coming back to, he believes it is outstanding.

“I think it’s a great roster,” Rondo said. “I think Rob [Pelinka] did a good job again. Brought in Kent Bazemore. We got [Wayne] Ellington as well. Knockdown shooter. Young talent in [Malik] Monk along with Talen Horton-Tucker.

“I think we got a great mix of guys, a great group of guys that haven’t won and have a chip on their shoulder and have so much to prove. And a lot of guys that have won, so I think we have a great team chemistry. I believe training camp is going to be big for us. How we start out, how we set the tone early on the season and come together.”

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