As part of our Wednesday lineup, we are going to take a look into the NBA history books and pick out a moment that helped shape the league into what it is today. Or simply something hilarious that happened that I want to relive. Either way, I thought last year’s Chris Paul trade to Los Angeles was a fitting place to start. The Los Angeles Lakers I mean, of course.
If you remember, Chris Paul spent all of two plus hours as a member of the Lakers before David Stern ultimately vetoed the idea.(In which he made up by giving Houston the All-Star game and New Orleans the Number one pick…..Oh wait, that was just luck? Sure, David.) The Basketball Jones does a great job in discussing Paul’s career with the lakers here. So what if this trade had stuck? What would have happenned last year? How would it have affect this year? Or future years to come?
Had it gone through, here would have been the major terms of the trade:
Lakers Get: Chris Paul
Hornets Get: Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic
Rockets Get: Pau Gasol
Now without getting into the CBA and the specifics of their individual salaries as to not confuse everyone, here is what everyone’s next steps most likely would have been.
The Lakes would probably build around Bynum, Bryant and Paul. While the Howard trade may still happen this summer(Paul and Howard are friends from the 08′ Olympic team), the Steve Nash trade this summer definitely doesn’t. Where does Steve Nash end up? Probably in New York City playing for the Knicks. With the Lakers obviously not looking for a point guard, Nash probably would have picked the Knicks over the Raptors from his suitors as the best chance to win a title. This of course only occurs if….
Jeremy Lin signs with the Rockets. Do the Rockets go in search for that premier star this summer if they already have Gasol on the roster? You have to assume they would have made a big push to build around Gasol by signing him long term. I will tell you this, watching Lin and Gasol running a pick-n-roll would be pretty exciting, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Lin ends up in Houston anyway. If he hadn’t however, Nash may have taken Toronto’s money to become his country’s biggest hero since Wayne Gretzky.(Okay, probably a bit of an overreaction.)
The Hornets meanwhile, probably try to shed the contracts of Scola and Odom. Just like they did when the dealt Paul to the Clippers, they pretty much announced they were in rebuilding mode. While Scola still is and Odom at the time was a solid veteran, paying both of these guys almost $10 million each certaintly doesn’t scream rebuilding. This probably would have opened up a host of options for them, with many teams most definitely looking to get a jump at these two players. They most likely keep Martin who would be an expiring deal, and keep Dragic as their new point guard. Keep in mind, This means Dragic might not go to the Suns this year, and Martin isn’t available to be traded by the Rockets this past week to the Thunder. Which means, you guessed it, James Harden is probably still a member of the Thunder.(Word is now he probably would have been traded, but it definitely wouldn’t have been to Houston if Gasol and Lin were on the books already).
Last but not least, the team not to forget about is the Clippers, who ulimately ended up with Paul. So here is the trade that wouldn’t have happenned, but actually did.
Clippers Get: Chris Paul
Hornets Get: Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, Minnesota’s 2012 First Round Draft Pick.
So not only do Gordon and Aminu stay at Clippers probably into this year(Kaman probably leaves as his contract was up; My guess is the Clippers try to stay young), but they keep that pick. That turned into the 10th pick, which would have given the Clippers the first round pick they didn’t have this year. Let’s say they stay true and take Austin Rivers(they would need a PG), which would leave them with a young nucleus of Rivers, Griffin, Gordon, Aminu, and Jordan. All in all, not too shabby. Not Chris Paul, but not too shabby.
In the end, Stern waived his magic wand, and the Clippers got Paul and made the playoffs for the first time in six years. Also, Lob City was created. But what if it hadn’t? Would it have been the Lakers against the Heat instead of the Thunder? Would the Hornets have tanked enough to get Anthony Davis #1? Would the Rockets have kept Gasol? We’ll never know, but it’s always fun to think about. And that is why we have Wednesday’s what if’s.
Until next time, your awesome NBA you tube clip.