David Stern speaks at the Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony.

David Stern Recalls Failed Chris Paul To Lakers Trade, What Did The Former NBA Commissioner Say?

Does anyone remember the failed trade attempt between the then New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers, which would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers? Former NBA commissioner David Stein does. And you will not believe what he has to say about the three-team deal (courtesy of the New York Times) that he and the NBA front office shot down. It is guaranteed to be a head-scratcher.

In 2011, there was a huge trade being finalized that would have shifted the balance of power in the Western Conference back to the Lakers. Because the trade was vetoed by the league offices, the fortunes of each team involved, including the Houston Rockets were changed forever.

The initial trade had Chris Paul going to the Lakers and Pau Gasol going to the Rockets. Meanwhile, the team now known as the New Orleans Pelicans would have received Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, whoops! Chris Paul did eventually land in Los Angeles, but with the Los Angeles Clippers instead.

The then New Orleans Hornets received Chris Kaman, Al-Farooq Aminu, and Eric Gordon, along with draft picks for Chris Paul. Many believed that the original trade, the one where the Paul would have gone to the Lakers was the better did for the Hornets at the time.

Chris Paul looks up at the video board.
Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers was a trade that did not have to happen according to former NBA commissioner David Stern. [Image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]

To add further proof of that being the case, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola went on to be quality NBA starters, while Goran Dragic has become a borderline all-star. Not one player from the Clippers deal helped the Hornets long-term. Only Eric Gordon remained with New Orleans when they changed their nickname to the Pelicans.

The timing of the initial trade coincided with the end of a five-month lockout and caught many people by surprise. It was perceived as one-sided, and since the NBA was overseeing the day to day operations of New Orleans at the time, they felt that they could not cripple the franchise.

One of the people most against the Chris Paul to the Lakers’ trade was Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert. At the time the deal was made Gilbert sounded off on it.

“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. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard.”

The Lakers did trade for Dwight Howard, the Clippers got Chris Paul, and neither team, not the Rockets or Pelicans have made it to the conference finals.

Now comes David Stern bringing the failed Chris Paul deal back to everyone’s conscience. According to ESPN, Stern says that the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers could have still taken place.

Stern put the onus of making the Chris Paul trade work on former Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak. Stern’s take was a revelation.

“In the course of the weekend, we thought we could redo the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with [Kyle] Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick. Not we, but my basketball folks.

“But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.”

Imagine how different the fate of everyone involved would have been had the initial Chris Paul trade taken place. The Los Angeles Lakers would have been improved immediately, but the Hornets, now the New Orleans Pelicans would have been set up for a playoff run as well. Even with David Stern’s idea of a reworked trade. The deal that went down, the one to the Los Angeles Clippers has only had mild success for both parties.

[Featured Image by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]

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