In December of 2011, the Los Angeles Lakers made a blockbuster trade that sent shockwaves throughout the NBA. The franchise acquired point guard Chris Paul to play alongside Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum in a three-way deal that sent Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom elsewhere.
The Chris Paul trade was expected to keep the Lakers in title contention for years to come with arguably the best floor general in the league in the same backcourt as Bryant. Unfortunately, the league didn’t approve of the deal for “basketball reasons” and vetoed the trade resulting in chaos in Los Angeles.
Four years later, the Lakers have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons with Bryant going down with season-ending injuries three years in a row. The team is still trying to pick up the pieces after missing out on Paul with Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss still scratching his head about why the deal was vetoed in the first place, via Sam Amick of USA Today.
You have to assume that, ‘What was the thought process behind that? Why would you nix a deal that turned out to be better than the deal (that they vetoed)?…That kind of handcuffed (New Orleans) for years. It didn’t make any sense, but I want to see what they were thinking.
Buss and the Lakers brass will likely never get any real clarity on “basketball reasons” and why the NBA vetoed a blockbuster trade that appeared to work out for all three teams involved.
The Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Lakers stood to be improved teams had the deal gone through. Paul was on the move one way or another and ironically ended up in the same building playing for the Los Angeles Clippers regardless.
Although the vetoed Chris Paul trade still a painful memory for the Lakers brass and fans of the franchise, the fact is the team seems to be finally back on the right track. There’s still a long way to go with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle still needing to prove the future is bright in Los Angeles, but optimism is starting to spread with memories of failed trades slowing beginning to fade away.