Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss finally reveals why the league didn’t let them team up Kobe Bryant with guard Chris Paul.
It has been known that back in the 2011-2012 off-season, the Lakers organisation were interested in trading for the then Charlotte point guard Chris Paul. Kobe Bryant and his Lakers had come off three consecutive NBA Finals, winning two of them.
Since the NBA had bought the Hornets in 2010, then-commissioner David Stern had the authority over the team’s decisions. Stern ultimately decided to veto the trade, not allowing Kobe to team up with Chris Paul.
In an interview on the “All The Smoke” podcast, Buss revealed what truly had happened with the vetoed trade. She spilt the beans:
“As we’re in this room, ratifying the CBA with the union and voting on revenue sharing, all of the sudden, there’s kind of this rumour that goes around the room about a trade… There’s no way trade could be happening if we’re all in this room, doing league business. Except for the general manager of the [Hornets] felt that he had the authority to make a trade.”
“The trade was happening while everybody is in this room, so teams felt like, ‘How is that possible? We didn’t get a chance to make a trade for Chris Paul.’ So, they all attacked the league and said, ‘This wasn’t fair.”
“It wasn’t the NBA trying to keep the Lakers from Chris Paul; it was about David Stern had a responsibility to make sure that it was a trade that he would approve.”
“So, now he just calls off the trade and wants everybody to cool down because now you had a lot of teams thinking there was some funny business going on, but it wasn’t. It was just by coincidence.”
The dangerous duo of Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant could’ve been a nightmare for any team to play against
Buss further revealed that LAL maybe could’ve pushed to actually acquire Paul. But only could have done it if the then-GM of the Hornets Dell Demps had been patient enough.
Back in the 2011-2012 season, the Black Mamba averaged an insane 27.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. He was still in his prime and considered as the league’s best scorers. While, playing for the Clippers in his first season, Paul averaged 19.8 points, 9.1 assists and a league-high 2.5 steals.
That season, the Lakers had a 41-25 record losing to the young Oklahoma City Thunder team led by Kevin Durant. Had Chris Paul been on the same team alongside Kobe, the Lakers could’ve eventually competed against the “superteam” Miami Heat in that finals, and also for many more seasons to come. Rather, one can only imagine “what if” the trade had gone down.