League Vetoed The Deal After Significant Pushback From Owners

Published on May 1st, 2023 12:43 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The Chris Paul trade from Hornets to Lakers was an embarrassing one for the league. On December 8th, 2011, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired point guard Chris Paul in a three-team blockbuster trade.

A short while later, the league killed the trade.

What happened?


The deal, if it had happened, would have looked like this:

Chris Paul to Los Angeles Lakers (from New Orleans Hornets)

Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic to Hornets

Paul Gasol to Houston Rockets

*the Hornets were also set to receive future 1st and 2nd round picks in the deal

If the deal had gone through, the Lakers would have had both Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul on their team, while also saving future money on salaries and luxury taxes.


At the time that the deal was completed, the Hornets were owned by the NBA.

The team was having financial difficulties, and the NBA stepped in and purchased the team for a reported $300 million from George Shinn and Gary Chouest, as the league reportedly wanted to keep the team in New Orleans.

So, with the league owning and controlling the Hornets, the team decided to trade Chris Paul, one of the best players in the league, to the Los Angeles Lakers.


A number of the owners in the league were NOT happy with the deal.

In fact, a letter written by Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert, addressed to Commissioner David Stern, was "leaked" to the media.

Gilbert called the deal a "travesty", as it allowed the Lakers to acquire the best player in the deal, while also saving on salaries/luxury taxes AND retaining key assets that could be used in a future trade for Dwight Howard.

Gilbert asked that the trade go to a vote of the other 29 owners.


None of the other 29 teams were really in support of the deal.

Top contending teams were angry as it was seen as giving the Lakers an unfair advantage.

Teams that relied on revenue sharing (via luxury taxes) were not happy, as the Lakers would be saving tens of millions of dollars in luxury taxes by doing the deal.

In addition, all of the other 29 teams technically owned the Hornets as well, and some owners thought that trading away Chris Paul would make the franchise less attractive for a potential buyer.

The league was in a tough spot, as they owned the Hornets and it certainly looked as though they were trying to give a big-market team an advantage.


With some of the league's owners openly coming out against the deal, the league was forced to backtrack, eventually terminating the deal.

This was a stunning development, and key players in the deal such as Chris Paul and Lamar Odom were left to wonder just what had happened.

It was also an embarrassing development for the league, who were in the process of returning to action following a work stoppage.


Chris Paul would eventually be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Chris Paul to Lakers trade was certainly an embarrassing moment for both the league and then-Commissioner David Stern.

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