The nixed Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the biggest what-ifs in NBA history.
It was December of 2011. The writing was on the wall for Chris Paul to leave the New Orleans Hornets after the 2010-11 season, so the team started to orchestrate a trade. What resulted is one of the biggest what-ifs in NBA history that possibly robbed the Los Angeles Lakers of another NBA Championship.
Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a three-team deal that saw Pau Gasol go to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick go to New Orleans.
Then-commissioner David Stern nixed the trade due to concerns from other owners. At the time, the Hornets did not have an ownership group and the NBA owned the team, hence why Stern stepped in and canceled the trade.
Kobe Bryant might have tied (and surpassed) Michael Jordan’s six rings with Paul as his teammate and the travesty that was the Steve Nash/Dwight Howard year would have likely never happened. Instead, Paul became a Clipper and gave them their most successful tenure to date.
Chris Paul opens up about the nixed Los Angeles Lakers trade:
Speaking to Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on the Knuckleheads podcast, Paul gave his reaction to the nixed trade as well as some of the intriguing build-up prior to the trade.
“I was on the phone with my brother and my agent and all that. We figuring out a plane to get to New Orleans to get us to LA. My agent clicked over, said hold on, clicked over and then he came back on and he was like, stuttering. And we was hot. We was hot. Me and Kobe had talked, you know what I’m saying? We had talked already and all that. And it was a lot. It was a lot.”
Kobe and Paul would have been one of the most dynamic backcourt duos of all-time. Kobe still had another two prime years in him (maybe more if he did not get hurt) and Paul was right in the thick of his prime.
This would have been a top-two shooting guard and top-10 point guard of all-time teaming up together. It would have given basketball fans that elusive Kobe vs. LeBron NBA Finals matchup that we never got to witness, as the Heat were the NBA Finals for the next three years.
Even though it is not listed on the back of his basketball card, Paul still considers himself a Laker, albeit jokingly.
“I always say I played for the Lakers for a little bit. Like for a couple of hours.”
Paul also spoke about how he was trying to orchestrate the trade for Trevor Ariza to join him in Los Angeles as well. Ariza was already a former champion with the Lakers and undoubtedly would have been an impact role-player on another title-winning Lakers team. However, he was not included in the trade that would have sent Paul to LA.
Paul is now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and is one of the highest-paid players in the league, so the chances of him ever becoming a Laker have dwindled.