One of the modern NBA’s great what-ifs is what would have happened if then-NBA commissioner David Stern didn’t spike the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011.
As it turns out, an even bigger one was sitting in the shadows of Paul’s trade market.
As documented in the book “The Victory Machine” by Ethan Strauss, the Warriors reportedly attempted to acquire Paul from the New Orleans Hornets that same winter.
The price the Warriors would have paid? Two young guards by the name of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Such a trade is unthinkable today with the benefit of hindsight, but the deal was reportedly almost done, until Paul stepped in.
How Chris Paul killed a Splash Brothers blockbuster trade
An excerpt from the book, via NBC Sports:
The Warriors attempted to trade Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for Chris Paul in 2011. It was far from the only time Curry was shopped, but in this instance, the deal was very close to completion. Myers made the offer and Hornets GM Dell Demps was receptive. The catch was Chris Paul, who wanted out of New Orleans but had no intention of playing for the woebegone Warriors. Paul told the Warriors they could do this trade, but he wouldn’t be staying when his contract was up at season’s end.”
It’s sometimes hard to remember that before the Warriors were dominating the NBA, the team was so mismanaged that its fans booed owner Joe Lacob through the jersey retirement ceremony of franchise great Chris Mullin. You can only imagine how loud the boos would be now if Curry and Thompson achieved the success they’ve seen with the Hornets/Pelicans.
Former Warriors general manager Larry Riley has since denied the team had any discussions about trading Curry or Paul at the time, but Paul went on to confirm the story from his side during an appearance Uninterrupted’s “After Party.”
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
“Yeah, I remember it. True story,” Paul said when asked about the Curry-Thompson offer. “That happened with a few teams. I actually never wanted to come out West. I’m born and raised on the East Coast. You know what I mean? So I never was crazy about L.A. and all that, until I finally got out here and lived out here.
“At that time, all I knew really about the Bay is I had been there to play the games and everything was just so hilly and I just thought about ‘Full House.’”
Paul would later go onto be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that sent Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a draft pick that eventually became Austin Rivers to New Orleans. The Warriors would go onto win three championships with two of the greatest 3-point shooters of all time.
It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if Curry and Thompson ended up in New Orleans, but the Warriors might still want to send a gift basket to Paul. And possibly Bob Saget too.
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