David Stern: Lakers still could have traded for Chris Paul if GM didn’t panic
David Stern says that the Los Angeles Lakers still could have acquired Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in 2011, but their GM panicked.
In Dec. 2011, New Orleans, Houston and the Lakers agreed to a trade that would have sent CP3 to the Lakers. The Hornets did not have an owner at the time, so as commissioner, Stern reviewed the trade and rejected it for “basketball reasons.” Two days later, the Lakers traded Lamar Odom to Dallas. Odom would have gone to New Orleans as part of the original trade.
Stern, the former NBA commissioner, recently appeared on the “Nunyo & Company” podcast and said that the Lakers could have gotten CP3 if GM Mitch Kupchak hadn’t “panicked” and dealt Odom.
“(My decision) was only based on what was good for New Orleans, or what was not good for New Orleans,” Stern said of the trade, via Silver Screen & Roll. “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 Kupchack 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.”
What later happened changed the course of NBA history. Paul was eventually dealt to the Clippers, who instantly became contenders. They have posted a winning percentage above .600 in each season since the deal and reached the postseason every year. The Lakers had two more winning seasons, but with their core aging and without Paul, they have turned in four straight losing seasons.
As for the comment that Kupchak panicked, well it’s easier to say that now. But if you recall how Odom was acting after the trade was rejected (take a look at this), you’ll understand Kupchak’s reaction.