12 Years Ago Today The Chris Paul To Lakers Trade Was Vetoed By The NBA
12 years ago today, a trade that would have made Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant teammates, was vetoed by then NBA Commissioner David Stern. The Lakers had agreed to a three-team trade with the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets that would have resulted in Chris Paul being a Laker.
But 45 minutes after the teams reached an agreement, Stern vetoed the trade for, and I quote, ‘basketball reasons’. Stern had the authority to veto the deal because back then, the Hornets were without a team owner and were ‘owned’ by the league.
Simply explained; the league owned the majority of the Hornets, and felt like it wasn’t a good deal for the Hornets. They also were about to sell the team, and a terrible team without a star, would have resulted in losing money.
Years later, David Stern made an appearance on the Nunyo and Company podcast, and revealed that the Lakers still could have completed a deal for Chris Paul, if Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers’ General Manager at that time, hadn’t panicked.
“In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin 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.”
It is too easy to blame Kupchak. Trading Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks also was more reasonable for the Lakers, than to wait for Stern (New Orleans), and Houston to maybe make another deal possible. But one thing is for certain, it was the NBA’s biggest trade that never was. A possible backcourt duo consisting of Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant remains one of the greatest ‘what ifs’ in recent NBA history.
During an appearance on Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles’ ‘Knuckleheads’ podcast from 2020 year, Chris Paul shared some insight on what his 45 minutes as a Lakers player was like, while revealing that he had already talked to Bryant during that short time frame.
“I was on the phone with my brother and my agent, and all that. We figuring out a plane to get to New Orleans to get us to LA … let’s just say my agent clicked over, said hold on, clicked over and then he came back on and he was like, stuttering. And we was hot. We was hot. Me and Kobe had talked, you know what I’m saying? We had talked already and all that. And it was a lot. It was a lot.”