Trade Evaluation: The Failed Chris Paul Trade

(PHOTO CREDIT: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images.)

Los Angeles Lakers fans don’t want to remember the “basketball reasons” event. This was when David Stern, then-commissioner of the league and ALSO then-owner of the then-New Orleans Hornets, nixed the already public and finished Chris Paul trade to the Lakers. People point to that as the beginning of the end for the Lakers, even though they recovered nicely to get Steve Nash and Dwight Howard the next summer; it just didn’t work out. But I digress.

But what if that trade went through? Let’s look at all the people involved in this complicated deal that was supposed to happen before the shortened 2011-12 season.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS GET
Chris Paul

HOUSTON ROCKETS GET
Pau Gasol

NEW ORLEANS HORNETS GET
Kevin Martin
Luis Scola
Lamar Odom
Goran Dragic
2012 First Round Pick via New York Knicks

Obviously, we didn’t see this transpire. But let’s also look back on how the teams did the season before.

LAKERS were 57-25 and were swept by the Mavericks in the Western Conference semis.
HORNETS were 46-36 and were defeated by the Lakers in the first round in six games.
ROCKETS just missed the playoffs with a 43-39 record.

The Lakers were transitioning into the Mike Brown era but, of course, they were always looking for a splash. That splash was the CP3 deal. And it was widely believed they were going to follow it up with a Dwight Howard trade, securing the franchise for the next five years or so (or would it?!). But you know, basketball reasons.

The Hornets with this deal would be stuck in limbo, in most people’s view. They got four very good players (at the time) but none of them stuck out as a superstar. Kevin Martin was (and still is) a nice scorer. Luis Scola would have probably been lost in the shuffle. Goran Dragic, as we know, stepped it up another level in his career later with Phoenix although I don’t know if it would’ve happened there. And even if it did, would it have moved the needle much? And Lamar Odom wouldn’t be any different as he was so bummed about being dealt out of L.A.

I’m not sure where the Rockets would be with Pau Gasol. I guess a tandem of Kyle Lowry (who was still with the team then) and Gasol would have been okay. But the Rockets would have been without three of their top players from the seasons before. I like Pau but I don’t think he would have moved the Rockets up a notch. And while we’ll never know if the Rockets would have filled in those gaps Martin, Scola, and Dragic left, chances are that Houston still would have been on the cusp of the playoff race.

And as we know, what ended up happening was that the Clippers got Chris Paul. As for the three teams involved in the failed deal? The Lakers made the second round in 2012 (lost to OKC), the Hornets bottomed out, and the Rockets barely missed the playoffs again.

The Lakers would eventually get their star point guard (Steve Nash) and Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012 but we all know how that worked out, right? For the Laker fans, the less said about this, the better.

People cried conspiracy when the Hornets (now Pelicans) won the draft lottery. Anthony Davis got picked and now they’re on their way. Last season, the Pelicans made the playoffs for the first time since Paul got dealt.

The Rockets hit jackpot in the summer of 2012 when they got James Harden after years of collecting assets. And in the following season, Dwight escaped L.A. to go to the Rockets. Houston made the Western Conference Finals last season and looks to take it to the next step next season.

Oh, yeah. As for that FIRST-ROUNDER that was part of the deal in that failed Chris Paul trade? That pick turned out to be Royce White. Be well!


Follow Rey-Rey on Twitter at @TheNoLookPass for all tweets about the NBA and terrible pop music. Also, check out his podcast, Rey-Rey Is Fundamental.

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