Los Angeles Lakers fans remember the day in December of 2011 when Chris Paul was on his way to Hollywood. It sent a message to the rest of the NBA that the Lakers were going to try and maximize the end of Kobe Bryant’s career. It also gave the Lakers a superstar to help usher in the next era of Lakers basketball. The team was set for the next five to seven years at the point guard position.
Then the unthinkable happened as former NBA commissioner, David Stern, said that he was going to veto the trade due to “basketball reasons”. To make matters worse, Paul was later traded to the Lakers crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, a few days after. Stern’s decision added to his already less than stellar legacy as commissioner.
In an interview on the Nunyo and Company Podcast, Stern said that he believed that the trade between the Lakers and Hornets could re-do the deal that would have ultimately sent Paul to the Lakers. Stern claims then-Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak panicked:
“And in fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kyle Lowry; and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first round draft pick. Not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked, and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time.”
The effects of the trade still linger around for both teams. While the Clippers have enjoyed some of their most successful seasons with Paul at the helm, the Lakers have endured some of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. The have missed the playoffs four straight season, but the success could be on the horizon.
With multiple lottery picks, including one in next month’s draft, the Lakers have set a solid foundation of young players who can thrive together. It also helps that the team also has ample cap room to possibly attract one or two max-level players within the next two summers. If the Lakers can make a quick turnaround where they have success, the sting of the lost deal involving Paul will become a distant memory.