On this day in Los Angeles Lakers history, the NBA community thought that then-New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul was headed to Los Angeles in a blockbuster trade that never happened.
Coming out of the 2011 lockout, a story about a three-way deal between the Lakers, Hornets and Houston Rockets stunned the Association. L.A. agreed to part ways with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in exchange for the then-26-year-old point guard, who would eventually become one of the best playmakers in NBA history.
However, the late David Stern — who served as the NBA’s commissioner — vetoed the deal. Lakers governor Jeanie Buss would later reveal the trade collapsed due to miscommunication between Stern and Dell Demps, New Orleans’ general manager at the time.
The league-owned the Hornets when, Buss said, Demps sanctioned Paul’s trade without the seal of approval from Stern. The situation enraged other NBA teams, leading to the commissioner calling off the deal.
Former Orlando Magic star Gilbert Arenas has offered a different perspective on the failed trade.
Arenas claimed that NBA owners realized how much cap space the Lakers had at the time and argued the Purple and Gold would unfairly dominate in the league if the NBA allowed the trade to take place — especially knowing that Dwight Howard would soon end up in Los Angeles in a deal with the Magic.
All in all, Paul moved to California that year but to play for the L.A. Clippers, staying with the franchise until 2017. Meanwhile, the Lakers endured arguably the worst spell in the organization’s history, which ended with the arrival of LeBron James in 2018.
Buss Discusses Frank Vogel’s job security
In the aftermath of the Paul trade fiasco, the Lakers had to overcome a seven-year playoff draught before they returned to the NBA’s top — eventually winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2020. But since the triumph in the Orlando bubble, L.A. has again played below expectations.
After crashing out of the 2021 postseason in the first round, Los Angeles added some big names to the roster, including Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. But the Lakers have gone through difficult first weeks of the 2021-22 season, spending most of the time around the .500 mark.
Plenty of criticism befell head coach Frank Vogel amid L.A.’s struggles. However, Buss said the franchise won’t make any drastic changes before the Lakers have the whole roster at their disposal.
Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn are yet to make their season debuts, still nursing the injuries they suffered in the preseason. Meanwhile, James has already missed 12 games this year due to health and off-the-court issues.
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