The Lakers, Rockets and Hornets [now known as the Pelicans] worked out a three-team trade in 2011 that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles. Stern, acting as owner of the New Orleans franchise after George Shinn sold it to the league, vetoed the deal on the basis that the Hornets weren’t getting enough in return for an All-Star point guard who was just entering his prime.
The full trade would have sent Paul to L.A., Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. Stern blocked the deal, but says he intended to rework it.
“In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal,” Stern explained. “We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with [Kyle] Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But [Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.”
Later that year, New Orleans dealt Paul to the Clippers in exchange for Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and a 2012 first-round pick that became Austin Rivers. The Lakers lost a potential star to pair with Kobe Bryant for the final part of his career and haven’t been a title contender since.