‘Should’ve Been a Laker’: Magic Johnson Still Regrets the Botched Chris Paul Trade
Rewinding back to 2011, the Los Angeles Lakers looked to reshuffle their roster, on the back of a failed title defense run that ended with a sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round. In fact, the franchise looked to surround an aging Kobe Bryant with all the help they could sign!
The Lakers, between 2008 and 2010, had been to 3 straight NBA finals, with Kobe, Pau Gasol, and Phil Jackson leading the charge. But following the disappointment in 2011, a coaching and roster change was due.
With the goal of maximizing Bryant’s remaining years with L.A, the Lakers went after point guard Chris Paul, who back then was with the New Orleans Hornets. The 3 team trade would see Paul join the Lakers in the coming season while parting ways with Gasol and Odom, who were key pieces in their 2009-2010 championships.
Also Read – The Chris Paul Effect: Unique Stat Proves How CP3 Led Hornets, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder, and Suns to Success
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the then-commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade. Instead, Paul traveled across the hall to the rival LA franchise – The Clippers!
Magic has his say
Earvin Magic Johnson, one of the greatest Lakers of All Time, opened up about the idea of the Point God Chris Paul donning the Purple and Gold by saying – “I love the way Chris Paul thinks the game. See he has the Lakers mentality.”
“[Chris Paul] should’ve been a Laker a long time ago.”
Magic still isn’t happy about the results of the Lakers’ trade attempt for CP3 back in 2011.
(via @KeyJayandZ) pic.twitter.com/keOxImErZg
— ESPN (@espn) June 22, 2021
He further added by commenting, “I’m still mad at the NBA for not letting that trade go through. He should’ve been a laker a long time ago.”
Chris Paul, aka The Point God, requires no introduction. With a stellar resume spanning across 15 seasons, Paul will go down as one of the top guards of all time. With a championship stamp still missing on his resume, many wonders about the Lakers title contention had the former, teamed up with Kobe Bryant in 2011.
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Paul throughout his career has been an exceptional floor general, a leader who would have fit hand in glove with Bryant, given his drive and focus on working on his game. In fact, when asked in an interview a few years ago, about the veto, Stern responded by saying, “I didn’t approve the trade. No team sells or trades a future Hall of Famer without the owner signing off, and I was the owner’s rep.”
Stern justified his decision by highlighting that he believed that as the owner’s rep for the Hornets, who were then owned by the league, Chris Paul was worth more than was agreed to in the trade. Paul had averaged 18.7ppg/4.2rpg/10.7apg in his last year with New Orleans.
The 2012 Lakers
The franchise signed Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in 2012, who in tandem with Kobe Bryant were considered instant title favorites. But, unfortunately, multiple injuries to Nash, Howard, and Kobe saw that roster fall to pieces with its championship aspirations.
Read More – Revisiting The Unfortunate and Injury-Ridden Postseason History of Phoenix Suns Star Chris Paul
On the other hand, Chris Paul had little success in his tenure with the rival LA team, as the Lob City Clippers failed to make the Western Conference Finals in all their runs together. With both Paul and the Lakers having similar playoff fates since their paths crossed in 2011, the vetoed trade will go down as one of the biggest “what if” moments in NBA history.
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