Clippers-Lakers: 5 moments that changed L.A.’s power balance

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Dec 7, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Clippers defeated the Timberwolves 110-106. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers trading for Chris Paul in 2011

To say this moment was controversial would be an understatement. Within an hour of the New Orleans Hornets reaching an agreement with the Lakers and Houston Rockets for a three-team trade, NBA commissioner David Stern informed the Hornets that it couldn’t happen. Many team owners were reportedly complaining to Stern and demanding that the trade should be vetoed, and they got their wish as the deal was ended almost instantly.

The Hornets’ hopes to move the disgruntled Paul elsewhere were over, the Lakers were forced to continue without a new superstar point guard, and the Clippers unbelievably came in and hit the jackpot. To land their star of the future, they traded away Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu. All of which were replaceable for someone of Paul’s calibre, especially their previous star guard Gordon, who ended up being ridden with injuries. And with that, the trajectory of both L.A. teams changed.

Instead of Paul, the Lakers wound up with Steve Nash (we all know how badly that turned out) and Dwight Howard (we all know how terribly that turned out). They were well and truly left out to dry. Rather than getting a young superstar who could have teamed up with Kobe throughout his older years to help carry the team, the Lakers’ trade was nullified and just a week later, a trade to send Paul to the Clippers was accepted.

Two years after drafting Griffin, the Clippers had the superstar point guard to run the show and one of the best defenders in the league. Add on the emerging explosive, defensive presence of DeAndre Jordan (who started 66 games in 2010-11), and the team finally had multiple pieces in play to improve the fortunes of the franchise.

Paul’s impact was (obviously) remarkable. In his first full season in 2012-13, the Clippers won a franchise record 56 games (they had never even reached 50 before) and were instantly on the map as the 4th seed in the Western Conference.

For a team who had always been at the depths of the NBA, the arrival of Paul took them to a level that they had never experienced since the franchise was created.

Next: The Lakers' attempted rebuild