Back in December of 2011, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire arguably the best point guard in the NBA at the time in Chris Paul. The storied franchise had made another move to help secure the team’s future with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol still playing at a high level in Los Angeles and rumors floating around about Dwight Howard potentially being on his way as well.
Before the deal to acquire Paul was ultimately vetoed by the NBA for “basketball reasons,” Bryant had a conversation with what he thought was his new Lakers teammate.
Kobe recently recalled the conversation and said the following about what was said between the two NBA superstars via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:
“You know me. My dream isn’t to win games,” Bryant recalled to ESPN this week. “It’s like, ‘How many of these titles are we going to win [together]?’ Because if we don’t win, we’re a failure.”
Paul also talked about the conversation he had with Bryant back in 2011. The current Los Angeles Clippers point guard mentions the excitement of the trade going through and then ultimately falling apart via Holmes:
“It was crazy,” Paul told ESPN this week. “It was exciting. We talked about potentially being teammates and all that stuff like that. Then, in the blink of an eye, gone.”
Even though the Lakers were able to acquire Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the summer of 2012, the vetoed Chris Paul trade was more or less the catalyst for the team’s decline over the last few years.
Nothing has gone right for the Lakers organization since the team was denied the acquisition of Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in 2011. It has been one disappointing episode after another for Los Angeles with Howard leaving town for the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2013, Nash never being healthy enough to make an impact on this team and Bryant going down with season-ending injuries in three consecutive years.
The vetoed trade marked the end of an era of dominant Lakers basketball with Bryant leading the way. The team has failed to make the playoffs since 2013 and may be in for a few more years without a postseason appearance if the front office is unable to right the ship over the summer.
Following Kobe’s retirement this year, the organization will try to find a way to get back on top once again as the team heads into a crucial off-season. The Lakers will have the means to sign multiple players to max deals in NBA free agency and could have a top-three pick in the NBA Draft if the ping-pong balls bounce the right way in the draft lottery on May 17.