Jason Smith made enemies of the Clippers this week with his Saints bounty-esque hit on Blake Griffin, for which he was ejected, leading to his WWE-style exit from the court. But in a weird twist of fate, Smith actually inadvertently helped the Clips this offseason by making it possible for them to acquire Chris Paul.
ESPN’s Marc Stein shares how Smith was reportedly a hang-up in the now-infamous David Stern-rejected three-way swap that would have sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and a pre-moody Lamar Odom to the Hornets. According to Stein, because Smith wouldn’t agree to a sign-and-trade, the trade wasn’t close to being finalized by the time Stern nixed it.
The principal pieces of the original three-team deal were indeed all agreed to: Paul would be going to the Lakers; Pau Gasol was bound for Houston; and New Orleans would be receiving Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic, along with a 2012 first-round draft pick from the Rockets that had been previously acquired from the New York Knicks. But based on that trade construction, sources say the Lakers would have been forced to absorb another $3 million more in salary to make the cap math work.
The teams involved concluded that the best way to solve that issue would be for the Hornets to sign and trade Smith to the Lakers as part of the exchange. The Lakers, however, were prepared to guarantee only the first year of the three-year deal required in all sign-and-trades. Sources say Smith promptly rejected that offer, believing he should hold out for a longer-team deal, then had his decision vindicated when the Hornets later offered him a three-year deal worth $7.5 million with the first two years fully guaranteed.
You have to give Smith credit for not giving in just to accommodate a superstar like Paul. It was a decision that, dare I say, may have dictated the rest of history. Or at least until Stern got the chance to put his fist down at the behest of a whiny Dan Gilbert. So does this new revelation of the Paul-to-Lakers trade fiasco make us want to rip Stern and Gilbert any less? No. What fun would that be?
H/T Pro Basketball Talk
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle, US Presswire