The Los Angeles Clippers took the leap from league-wide laughing stock to a formidable squad in the Western Conference in 2011 when it acquired Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. It was a trade that occurred under extremely strange circumstances — then-commissioner David Stern infamously voided a Paul trade between New Orleans and the Lakers — but it kickstarted a golden era of Clipper basketball, even if that never resulted in a championship.
However, the Clippers and Lakers were not the only west coast teams that tried to acquire Paul’s services. The new book The Victory Machine by Ethan Strauss features a fascinating tidbit about the Golden State Warriors attempting to trade Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for the All-NBA point guard, but it reportedly fell through because Paul told the Warriors he would not sign an extension with the team.
Paul was asked about this during a recent podcast cameo and confirmed that it’s all true, saying he had no interest in playing on the west coast until he got out there and experienced life in L.A.
Chris Paul 🔁Splash Brothers. A 2011 trade that almost happened.
@CP3 explains why he rejected it on #WRTS: After Party.
Watch 📺: https://t.co/Bbr4SDruqG
Listen 🎧: https://t.co/WXweDcD8fy pic.twitter.com/M3hhJzXznU
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) April 28, 2020
“At that time, all I knew really about the bay is cause I had been there to play the games or whatever,” Paul told Paul Rivera and Maverick Carter of Uninterrupted. “And everything was just so hilly, and I just thought about Full House.”
Obviously this is a fascinating thing to look back on in retrospect. At least three NBA teams — Golden State, New Orleans, and the Clippers — are directly impacted by this move regardless of any other context. This doesn’t even begin to consider things like L.A. potentially going star hunting elsewhere, or some of the role players who ended up being staples of those Clippers teams like J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford potentially never ending up with the franchise, or someone other than New Orleans potentially getting the No. 1 pick and securing the services of Anthony Davis in the upcoming draft, or any of a host of other things that would have happened in the aftermath.
Things ended up working out pretty well for everyone involved to one extent or another, but it’s rare that this kind of deal that legitimately would have impacted titles, outlooks, and the careers of multiple All-Star players can be looked upon in retrospect.