On this day, the Chris Paul-Lakers trade was vetoed


It seems like it was just yesterday, NBA fans were preparing themselves for another five-plus years of Los Angeles Lakers domination.

The pieces were set: Kobe Bryant was entering the “twilight” stage of his career, still good enough to lead a team, but drawing nearer to where he is now. Andrew Bynum looked to be one of two things: one of the best centers in the league or a good enough trade chip to land one of the best centers in the league (or Dwight Howard). And on top of it all? The league’s best owner in Jim Buss and arguable the best head coach in Phil Jackson; there couldn’t have been a better plan.

And then David Stern happened, killing it all.

Thinking back on it, it’s still surprising the ordeal went down, showing how irresponsible David Stern and the NBA was as a part-time owner of the Hornets. Killing the deal isn’t an issue — we see owners shut down moves all the time (word to Donald Sterling), but by allowing the trade to go through, then killing it created an awful look for the league (and the reasoning behind the ordeal. Having owners (*cough*Dan Gilbert*cough*) speak out against the trade because of a “competitive disadvantage” was an even worse look, even if it had very little to do with the veto (in case you forgot, the deal was reportedly vetoed because “some team executives speculated that the league was concerned that the Hornets’ resale value would plummet without Paul on the roster,” per sources from the New York Times).

I still don’t believe the then-Hornets, now-Pelicans got a good haul for the best point guard in the world. The best-case scenario with that core is a playoff appearance and sweep by the Thunder or Spurs. The worst-case? They get a middling talent in the latter end of the talent, or basically, they don’t get Anthony Davis, and not having Anthony Davis and having Odom (washed out the league), Martin (injury prone, offense-only player), Scola (no defense, inefficient offense), and Dragic (yay, I guess?) isn’t ideal even if getting Davis isn’t guaranteed.

"Lakers receive: Chris PaulHornets receive: Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran DragicRockets receive: Pau Gasol"

Six days after the veto? Paul, once again, found himself in Los Angeles, but this time as a member of the Clippers instead of the Lakers, and from here things took a turn in the city of angels.

For the Lakers, it’s taken a handful of instances to pull down the all-time franchise, but once the ship fell, it crashed embarrassingly. The Dallas Mavericks massacre. Phil Jackson retired. The Mike Brown hiring. The Dwight Howard trade. The Mike Brown firing. The Mike D’Antonio hiring (spurning Jackson in the process). The passing of the great Jerry Buss. Kobe Bryant tearing his achilles a few games before the playoffs. Dwight Howard leaving the Lakers in free agency to join the Rockets. The Byron Scott hiring. So many things that had been all but vacant through the last decade sans the Kobe-Shaq dilemma and it all came in droves, with one instance creating way for the next.

Meanwhile, across the hall, the Clippers are stepping into the “Los Angeles championship contender” role once filled by the Lakers. Since Paul’s arrival — and most importantly, the Blake Griffin drafting in 2009 — the Clippers have stumbled across a path of success not trodden since the early 2000s when Elton Brand and Sam Cassell were faces of the franchise. The addition of Doc Rivers increased this teams trajectory. The removal of Donald Sterling cleared a hovering dark cloud over the franchise.

And all because of one measly veto. Oh well. Happy Chris Paul veto day!

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