In December of 2011, the late David Stern sent shockwaves throughout the NBA by nixing the New Orleans Hornets’ plans to trade point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The agreed-upon trade between the Hornets, Lakers and Houston Rockets would have sent Paul to Los Angeles, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin to New Orleans.
After Stern vetoed the trade, the Hornets wound up trading Paul to the other team in LA, the Los Angeles Clippers. New Orleans received Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ unprotected 2012 draft pick (Austin Rivers) for Paul.
Paul played six seasons with the Clippers and averaged 18.8 points and 9.8 assists in 409 regular-season games. However, CP3 never got past the second round of the playoffs during his tenure with the franchise. It’s safe to say that wouldn’t have been the case had he been traded to the Lakers, as Paul would have teamed up with Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
With the NBA set to return in a month, let’s take a look at four things most fans don’t know about the Chris Paul-Lakers failed trade.
1. David Stern owning the Hornets
David Stern was the owner of the Hornets at the time of the Paul trade. Lakers fans were very angry that he vetoed the trade, but the late NBA commissioner had a pretty good reason for it.
“I did it because I was protecting the then-Hornets,” Stern said back in 2018. “To this day, everyone always asks me, ‘Well why did you keep Chris Paul from going to the Lakers?’ I didn’t keep him. I didn’t approve the trade. No team sells or trades a future Hall of Famer without the owner signing off, and I was the owner’s rep.”
2. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert complaining to Stern
Dan Gilbert was already in a bad mood since LeBron James left the Cavs in 2010. As a result, he didn’t want to see yet another superteam get built.
Once word spread that the Lakers were acquiring Paul, Gilbert sent a message to Stern raging about how unfair the deal was. The Cavs owner called the proposed deal “a travesty” and urged Stern to put the deal to a vote of “the 29 owners of the Hornets,” referring to the rest of the league’s teams.
3. Lamar Odom planned to skip the first day of Lakers camp
Odom was pretty upset about the Paul trade, even though it never went down.
The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Odom intended to skip the first day of Lakers camp. The lefty also tweeted, “When a team trades u and it doesn’t go down? Now what?”
Overall, it was just an ugly situation for the Lakers.
4. Rockets were disappointed after missing out on Pau Gasol
The Rockets were said to be crestfallen after missing out on Gasol, who was targeted to fill the void created by Yao Ming’s retirement.
Ming had to retire early due to foot issues and Houston was looking forward to plugging Gasol into their system.
In the end, the Clippers won the Chris Paul trade since they got a Hall of Fame point guard. The Lakers, though they rebounded in 2018 by signing LeBron James and acquiring Anthony Davis in 2019, were a walking disaster in the successive years after the failed Paul trade.