What could have been for the Los Angeles Lakers?
The Lakers famously tried to trade for All-Star point guard Chris Paul in 2011, but then-NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed the three-team trade between the Lakers, Houston Rockets and league-owned New Orleans Hornets.
In a recent appearance on the “Nunyo & Company” podcast, Stern discussed how the Rockets and Hornets attempted to renew talks, but then-Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made a hasty move that officially killed the deal.
“In the course of the weekend, we thought we could redo the deal,” Stern said, as transcribed by ESPN. “We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with (Kyle) Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for (Lamar) Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick. Not we, but my basketball folks.”
The initial deal had the Lakers receiving Paul, the Rockets getting Pau Gasol and the Hornets collecting Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a 2012 first-round pick.
Then, according to Stern, Kupchak made a rash decision that ended any chance of Paul wearing the purple and gold.
“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.”
Kupchak traded Odom to the Dallas Mavericks three days after Stern’s veto for an $8.9 million trade exception and a protected 2012 first-round pick. Paul would be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers one week after the infamous veto for a package that included Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and an unprotected first-round draft pick.
The Lakers made the NBA playoffs in 2012 and 2013, but have been in the lottery for the past four seasons.
Paul to the Lakers remains one of the biggest what-ifs in NBA history.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images