Opinion

Chris Paul Veto Is Still Affecting the Los Angeles Lakers

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On Dec. 8, 2011, commissioner then of the NBA David Stern vetoed a three-team trade that would have sent then-Hornets star Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. The proposed deal was Paul to the Lakers; Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets; and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and a first-round draft pick (from Houston via the Knicks) to the Hornets. Chris Paul was to be the gateway to the Lakers’ future, the face of the franchise after Kobe Bryant.

After the deal didn’t go through the Lakers went down hill. They dealt Lamar Odom (with a conditional second-round pick for good measure) to Dallas for an $8.9 million trade exception and the Mavericks’ 2013 first-rounder (traded to Houston for Jordan Hill; then traded to OKC for James Harden; Thunder drafted Steven Adams). Mark Cuban called it “by far the worst” roster move he’s ever made. The Lakers then traded for Steve Nash (three years, $27 million), who played just 65 games through two seasons before retiring ahead of the third year of his contract. The Lakers eventually traded away Bynum for Howard, a disastrous experiment that resulted in Bryant in saying that he “didn’t appreciate (Shaquille O’Neal) until I played with Dwight.” The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season and worse, they saw their crosstown rivals grow into THE PRIMARY franchise in Los Angeles.

Those bad seasons resulted in solid draft picks (D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr, Julius Randle) and a good looking talented rookie (Brandon Ingram). They brought back former player Luke Walton as head coach to bring a new vibe and culture within the Lakers organization. He has showed flashes of brilliance from time to time this season but overall has struggled.

The true question still resembles in “Who on this current Lakers roster do you see as the new face of the franchise?” Many thought D’Angelo Russell would step into that role as he averaged 13.2 PPG and 3.3 assists as a rookie last season and showed flashes of stardom. But this season hasn’t been the best moving forward in the right direction type season for Russell as he’s only averaging 14 PPG and 4.7 assists. The truth is the Lakers have a group of solid young good players, but not a superstar type caliber young player as some other young teams have like the 76ers, Bucks, and Timberwolves. ( Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Karl Anthony-Towns)

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently 19-39 looking for answers and has all but fallen out of the race entirely, managing the league’s third-worst winning percentage, behind just the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns. Someone within the Lakers organization said right after the Chris Paul trade was vetoed “The Chris Paul deal will have a negative effect on this franchise for the next 10 years.” it’s been 6 years and counting so far and he just might be right.

A Kobe Bryant-Chris Paul back court tandem would have tormented the western conference. The Lakers still could have flipped Andrew Bynum and some assets for Dwight Howard, putting together a superteam that would have continued to compete for championships in LA. Paul, a great pick-and-roll player, likely would have played seasons with prime Dwight Howard, while Bryant would have winded down into his career and eventually retired. Paul would of been the new face of the franchise and the quote on quote “rebuild” would have been more of a “retooled” what could of been, and what should have been. Now the Lakers find themselves 6 years later still looking for answers.

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