It was in 2010, the NBA purchased the New Orleans Hornets from owner George Shinn. The NBA had put Dell Demps into the role of General Manager with the freedom to trade away any players or picks; including star Chris Paul. Paul had made it publicly clear that he did not want to remain a Hornet past the 2011-2012 season, alternatively wanting to play in New York or Los Angeles. The NBA had its 4th ever lockout in history, lasting 161 days. It began on July 1, 2011 and ended on December 8, 2011. The lockout focused on competitive balance and keeping star players in their small market cities.
To prevent the Hornets from losing their superstar point guard to Free Agency for nothing in return, Demps had agreed to a deal which kept the NBA-owned team competitive for years to come.
Demps had the intention of completing a partially accepted trade to send Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol would go to the Houston Rockets, and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and a first-round draft pick, from Houston via New York, to the Hornets.
This would, in all hopes, create a super team with Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard (traded from Orlando in the following season). The idea had upset the rest of the league owners, who did not like the thought of sending a superstar in Chris Paul, to a marquee franchise. Thus the league had vetoed the trade.
On December 14th, shortly after the lockout had come to an end, the NBA had traded away Chris Paul to his desired destination, Los Angeles; just not to the sixteen-time owners of the Larry O’Brian trophy, but rather to the 0 time NBA champions, The Los Angeles Clippers. The trade sent Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and an unprotected 2012 first round draft pick (from Minnesota) to the New Orleans Hornets in return for Chris Paul.
This deal flattered the league and its owners which gave the Hornets younger talent and a draft pick with higher upside. This draft pick had turned into the 10th overall pick, Austin Rivers.
The 2012 NBA draft had treated the New Orleans Hornets (making their final draft picks as the Hornets) very well, acquiring the 1st overall draft pick with 13.7% chance to win, and the 10th via trade. Anthony Davis was drafted with the first overall pick and was destined to become the face of the Pelicans (formerly known as the Hornets).
Now, what could’ve been; The Lakers would have had one of the earliest forms of a super team consisting of CP3, Dwight Howard, and of course Kobe Bryant perhaps altering the path for Lebron’s decision to join the Heat. This Lakers squad, alongside a supporting cast, would have had the chance to win many championships which utterly would have kept Dwight inclined to stay in Los Angeles. This trade would have left Pau Gasol on the Houston Rockets to team up with James Harden to perhaps perfect the pick-and-roll and form a connection similar to John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Now, all this is simply history juggled around a conspiracy theory, yet we may never stop wondering all of the “What If” questions which surround the NBA.