In 2011, the LA Lakers had a backcourt duo for the ages in Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul until the trade that brought the latter to Tinseltown was voided by the NBA. It was an unprecedented move from former commissioner David Stern as the league was a majority owner of the New Orleans Hornets at the time.
Former All-Star Gilbert Arenas shared insider info on how the Chris Paul deal between the Lakers and the Hornets was blocked by the NBA during a recent episode on his “No Chill” podcast.
In Arenas’ story, Dwight Howard would have joined the LA Lakers and started a super team with Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.
“So Dan Fagan [former NBA player agent] hit Mark Cuban [Dallas Mavericks owner] and did the numbers,” Arenas told Paul. “It would have destroyed the league for at least 10 years. So if you went, Dwight went, you guys had $24-30 million dollars left in cap space. So at that time, you’re talking about the starting price about $12-13 million on a max contract. So you got three max players right there, and you can get two more max players.”
On December 8, 2011, commissioner Stern infamously vetoed the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the LA Lakers while they sent Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets were supposed to send Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragic to the Hornets.
Gilbert Arenas explains how the NBA kept Chris Paul from LA Lakers
In an earlier part of the interview, Arenas told Chris Paul of the events leading up to his aborted trade to the LA Lakers.
“So when it got nixed, I’m like ‘Damn what happened?” Arenas said. “He [Fagan] said it was unfair. Right? He said, ‘What was in the background of all that was Dwight Howard being traded for [Lakers center Andrew] Bynum.’”
“Remember, I’m in Orlando. I’m already talking to Otis [Smith, Orlando Magic GM] and it was like, ‘Dwight don’t want to stay.’ Remember, this was when the amnesty was coming. So Orlando, they’re trying to figure out if they were going to throw me in the deal and force [the] Lakers, ‘If you want Dwight you’re gonna have to take Gilbert’s contract too.’ Then, I was probably gonna get amnestied.”
Players of this magnitude would have given the LA Lakers a super team that would have rivaled the Miami Heat’s own super team of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In fact, this dream Lakers squad would have been the favorite going into an NBA Finals series with that Heat team.
Unfortunately, the NBA stepped in to keep Chris Paul from going to the fabled franchise, and it kept the LA Lakers from being a powerhouse for the next few years.