As if they weren’t good enough already, the Golden State Warriors rocked the NBA world when they signed Kevin Durant in free agency in the summer of 2016. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement raised the salary cap for the teams, and essentially paved the way for the creation of numerous super-teams this summer.
Commissioner Adam Silver voiced his concerns when the Warriors singed Kevin Durant, stating that he didn’t think the move was good for the league. There have been tries to create super-teams in the past, but the NBA’s decision to block the Chris Paul trade that would have paired him with Kobe Bryant remains the most controversial decision in recent league history. The New Orleans Hornets were owned by the league back in 2011, and GM Dell Demps tried to pull off a move that would change the NBA for good.
The Hornets would send Chris Paul to the Lakers in a three-team trade, in exchange for Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and New York’s 2012 1st-round pick, while the Rockets would get Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Chris Paul was eventually traded a week later, but his landing spot was the Clippers, with the Hornets getting Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s 2012 1st-round pick (which became Austin Rivers). Had the first trade gone through, it would have altered the trajectories of three franchises, and it might have given Kobe one more ring or two. However, the trade that eventually went through turned out to be a complete fiasco for the Hornets (now Pelicans), and remains one of Stern and the league’s biggest blunders.
All things considered, here are 5 trades that would have been shot down by the league this season:
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Cleveland Cavaliers
Should Giannis Antetokounmpo ever request a trade, there will be a swarm of offers pouring in the Bucks’ offices. Out of a myriad possible trades, a trade that makes the numbers work is between the Bucks and the Cavaliers. The Bucks would send Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Cavaliers, in exchange for Kevin Love and the Nets pick. Such a move would severely change the face of the Eastern Conference, and there is a good chance it could be vetoed by Adam Silver.
The reason is that the Cavaliers would become even stronger than they are now, and the Milwaukee Bucks would lose their franchise player. The Cavaliers can create room in their salary cap by trading away Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye in return for expiring contracts. That would give them cap space to bring in more talent, which would surely create a multi-headed monster in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks would not necessarily be hurt by the trade, as they have a ton of talent in their team. However, the fan base would surely take a hit. Even so, the departure of Giannis would give the Bucks the opportunity to develop Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and John Henson among others.
Russel Westbrook – Los Angeles Lakers
The Oklahoma City Thunder were devastated after the loss of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, and Russell Westbrook was really frustrated about that move. Even so, the team did a major overhaul in their roster in the off-season, as they traded for Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, creating yet another super-team in the Western Conference. However, two months in the new season, the Thunder are sitting outside the play-off spots, two games behind the 8th Jazz. Their Big 3 has yet to find consistency so far, and the Thunder could be for a huge surprise at the end of the season.
Both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George can explore free-agency this summer, and if that happens, the Thunder will be in a very dire spot. If they are unable to challenge any of the play-off spots now, they will surely not be able to do that when George and Anthony leave. Westbrook is really frustrated about the situation and demands to be traded, possibly to the Lakers. The Lakers have a ton of assets to make this trade work, and they decide to offer Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, a future pick and/or Jordan Clarkson. The Thunder have no other option but to accept, as they start the re-build with a couple of really talented youngsters. However, the NBA decides to veto the trade, and the Lakers fans are furious! After the Chris Paul veto back in 2011, the Lakers suffer a second blow to the franchise’s hopes to create a strong team. However, they are really active in the summer of 2018, as they will go on to create a new super-team that will challenge the Golden State Warriors.
Anthony Davis – Boston Celtics
The New Orleans Pelicans pulled a massive move in the All-Star weekend last season, when they brought in DeMarcus Cousins. The Twin Towers have been excellent this season, but the overall lack of depth in the team is a reality. The Pelicans are really thin on the wings, especially in the SF position. With the creation of so many super-teams in the Western Conference, there is no guarantee that the Pelicans will make the play-offs. Cousins’ contract is expiring at the end of the season, and we all know what a character he is.
It won’t be long before Cousins will look to go to a contender, and if the Pelicans fail to make the play-offs this season, Cousins might go into free agency. That could possibly spark the beginning of the end for the Pelicans, as Anthony Davis requests a trade out. The Celtics have been eyeing Davis for quite a while now, and they offer Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and two of their future first-round picks. Such a move would push the Pelicans back to the stone age, for the second time in the franchise’s history. The Pelicans fan base would take a massive hit with Davis and Cousins out, and that is bad for business. Adam Silver decides to make up for Stern’s mistake back in 2011, and he vetoes the trade. The Pelicans retain their franchise player, but fail to break into the play-offs in the next pair of seasons.
LeBron James – Houston Rockets
Fast forward to the 2017-18 NBA Finals, and the Cleveland Cavaliers lose to the Warriors in Game 7. LeBron James is really frustrated about the result, there are whispers in the league that he wants out. However, he is eventually convinced to stay for one more year, but it will be his last if the Cavs fail to win a title. The Cavaliers are decimated by injuries by Christmas 2018, and they are sitting well outside the play-off spots. LeBron has had enough of it, and he demands a trade. His close friend Chris Paul is pitching him a move to the Rockets, who offer Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela and/or Eric Gordon.
The Cavaliers are reluctant at first, but seeing their season go down the drain, they choose to accept the trade, as they get some much needed depth in an injury-ridden roster. They can possibly get a Center for the future, along with a couple of sharp-shooters to add to their already decent roster. However, the NBA vetoes the trade, and LeBron James is furious. Not only the Cavs fans lose faith in him, but he is also forced to play for a sinking team, that barely makes the play-offs that season. They are eliminated at the first round by the Celtics, and LeBron James walks as a free agent, which destroys the Cavs in the long-run. He eventually signs with the Lakers, who also add DeMarcus Cousins, and the pair will move on to capture two titles in the coming years.
Paul George – Golden State Warriors
The OKC Big Three have not fared well so far in the season, and playing in such a competitive Western Conference has them pinned outside the play-off spots. As the trade dead-line draws ever closer, there are rumors that Paul George will exercise his contract option and will go into free agency in the summer. Among other teams, the Lakers are rubbing their hands, looking to sign Paul George along with DeMarcus Cousins and/or LeBron James. The OKC front office hear the troubling news, and decide to take action.
In fear of losing Paul George to nothing, they accept the Warriors’ trade offer for veteran SF Andre Iguodala, promising rookie F Jordan Bell, and SG Nick Young. OKC might be losing Paul George, but they get a veteran defender SF for their starting line-up, along with Nick Young who will definitely help from the bench. Moreover, Jordan Bell is groomed to be the future big man for the franchise, so it all kind of works out for OKC. However, a possible Paul George trade to the Warriors is going to be a ground-breaking move, much greater than the addition of Kevin Durant. The outcry in the league is so loud, that the NBA has no other option but to veto the trade, much to OKC’s frustration, who will go on to lose both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in the coming summer.