The Great Lakers Trade That Never Happened

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In 2011 Chris Paul was headed to LA, not to play with the Clippers, but, to play with the Lakers. However, David Stern vetoed the trade and sent the All-Star point guard in another direction. The three team trade would have seen the Hornets receive Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and New York’s 2012 1st round pick (which became Royce White), the Lakers receive Chris Paul, and the Rockets receive Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.

But instead, David Stern accepted an offer from the Los Angeles Clippers. The trade sent the Hornets Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Minnesota’s 2012 1st-round pick (which became Austin Rivers). The Clippers received Chris Paul and two 2nd-round picks. (per Tony Manfred).

If the Lakers were able to get Chris Paul, they would have had the best guard combo in the NBA, with Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. They were giving up a lot for Paul, as Lamar Odom was a guy who could score and rebound the ball exceptionally well, push the ball down, and at times play point guard, at 6’10 Lamar’s ability to play point guard was huge.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Pau Gasol, who was a solid Center coming off two championships in three finals appearances, would have been a great player for Houston to have. It never made any sense why that trade was vetoed by David Stern. And since then, the Lakers have never been the same.

Even the Hornets would have benefited more, by getting Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, and Luis Scola. The Rockets also would have gotten a better deal in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. And, of course, the Lakers would have gotten Chris Paul. This trade was better for all three teams because it would have increased the talent level they'd receive.

After Chris Paul went to the Clippers, he formed a big three with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, Even still, they were not able to reach the Western Conference at any point of the "Big Three" era. As for the Lakers, they still finished third that season with a 41-25 record. Unfortunately, the Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

In the 2012-2013 season, the Lakers went all in and made a “fab five”, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard. On paper, that squad looked like a 65+ win team. But in just the 2nd game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers, Steve Nash got injured and was out for an extended period of time.

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In April, the Lakers were playing in a must win game against the Golden State Warriors in Staples Center when Kobe Bryant went down twice that game and everyone thought it was an injury but he kept on playing. Toward the end of the game, Kobe tried to ice the game, and as he drove in on Harrison Barnes, he tripped and fell.

He had a Torn Achilles that would impact the rest of his career. Kobe did finish that game with 34 points and poured his heart out on the court for the Lakers to make the playoffs. But they eventually got swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs that year.

Ever since 2013, the Lakers have failed to see any post-season success. If the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers was accepted, it could have been a completely different story. Adding one of the best point guards to join with the best shooting guard would have been a very dangerous duo.

Now under Adam Silver, the NBA has changed a lot, teams can form “super teams”, and the interest of games is not as stable as it used to be. Some games will be nail-biters until the last minute, and some games will be blowouts after the first half. Teams are allowed to trade and deal at will, much to the dismay of other organizations.

And based on where L.A. is now, that CP3 trade veto had a huge negative effect on the Laker fan base and Lakers in general. Last time the Lakers were in the playoffs was 2013 when they got swept by the Spurs. If they don’t land a superstar in LA during 2018 free agency, that streak could get longer.

But the good news is, the Lakers' future looks very bright, led by Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram, adding Lonzo Ball to the mix will help also. The projected Lakers starting lineup is Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Brook Lopez.

That is a pretty solid starting lineup, but with so many teams having improved this season by adding stars, the Lakers will likely not make the playoffs come April barring any injuries from other teams. This remains to be seen.

So, as evidence suggests, there is a huge difference between the leadership of David Stern compared to Adam Silver. It may be a good thing for some fans, and a bad thing for other fans. Either way, it should be a very interesting season with a lot of stars on the same team, but only one of them will hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy come June.