Video: Chris Paul on losing out on opportunity to play with Kobe Bryant due to trade veto
As part of a recent appearance on the All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul lamented the fact that he never got to play alongside Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.
In 2011, the NBA vetoed an epic trade that would have made Paul and Bryant teammates in Los Angeles. The New Orleans Hornets were sending Paul to the Lakers as part of a three-team deal with the Houston Rockets.
However, then-league commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal just 45 minutes after an agreement had been reached, according to a report from The New York Times. Stern was the de facto owner of the Hornets at the time, giving him the authority to veto the deal negotiated by the front office.
Paul touched on Stern’s decision to veto the trade during his appearance on the podcast, noting that he missed the opportunity to play with Kobe on the Lakers:
Chris Paul was disappointed when the league blocked his opportunity to team up with Kobe on the Lakers
(🎥 All The Smoke) pic.twitter.com/osqCoqVkcW
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 2, 2020
The NBA did not explain the decision right away, though finances were later noted as one of the issues with the trade. A few owners, including Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, were against the deal. In fact, Gilbert sent a letter to Stern and others in the league that referred to the trade as a “travesty,” noting that the deal would have saved the Lakers $20 million in salaries over the next three years, and another $21 million in luxury taxes.
“I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process,” Gilbert wrote, via The New York Times.
Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles in January at the age of 41. Sadly, all nine passengers on the flight, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, perished in the tragic accident. The group was on its way to The Mamba Sports Academy, where Kobe was to serve as a coach for his daughter’s basketball team.
What an epic pairing it would have been on the Lakers, with Chris Paul running the point and Kobe Bryant slashing from the wing and driving home the proverbial nail.