David Stern: Chris Paul to LA Lakers deal almost happened but Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers
PHOTOGRAPH: Keith Allison/Flickr | Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers

Former NBA commissioner David Stern earned plenty of criticisms after rejecting a 2011 blockbuster trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. Stern explained his decision and revealed that the deal could have happened if former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak didn’t panic.

“(My decision) was only based on what was good for New Orleans, or what was not good for New Orleans. It had nothing to do with the Lakers at all. And 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 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,” Stern said.

What if the Chris Paul to Los Angeles Lakers trade happens?

During the trade negotiation, there were reportedly some NBA owners who urged then-NBA commissioner Stern to veto the deal. The Lakers just won a back-to-back championship in 2009 and 2010. Having another superstar like Chris Paul would have made them unbeatable for years.

Aside from acquiring Paul, the deal would also enable the Lakers to save over $40 million. Before Stern vetoed the trade, CP3 and Kobe Bryant already started discussing game plans on winning multiple championship titles together. However, Bryant felt very disappointed with the league’s decision.

If the trade happened, Bryant would have retired with more than five NBA championship titles. This would enable him to surpass NBA legend Michael Jordan’s record of six. Paul still ended up playing in Los Angeles but with the franchise who are still unable to win their first NBA championship title.

Chris Paul traded to the wrong team?

After nixing the trade, Stern approved a trade that sent Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. Since the arrival of CP3, the Clippers become a playoff contender every season. Unfortunately, despite having three superstars, their only greatest achievement was reaching the Western Conference Semifinals.

As of now, Paul is one of the NBA superstars who is still chasing for his first NBA championship title. In the upcoming free agency, the 32-year-old point guard needs to decide if he’ll still stay with the Clippers or join a better team. If Paul leaves the Clippers, there is a higher possibility that he will join the San Antonio Spurs.

Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr

Video courtesy: Youtube/Nick Smith

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