Rewrite History: What if the Chris Paul trade went through?

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Right before the 2011-2012 NBA season, the same season that was shortened by a lockout, the New Orleans Hornets tried to trade Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team deal that also included the Houston Rockets. However, the league office, which owned the Hornets at that time, shut the trade down. 

So, this begs the question, what would have happened if the trade actually went through? That’s what we’re here to find out. 

Setup


Chris Paul playing for the Clippers against the Wizards in 2016.  Photo in the    public domain

Chris Paul playing for the Clippers against the Wizards in 2016. Photo in the public domain

I loaded in the 2011-12 rosters, and the first thing I had to do is essentially undo the trade that sent CP3 to the Clippers. In doing so, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chris Kaman went back to Los Angeles and CP3 went back to New Orleans.

Then, I also had to undo the Lamar Odom trade that happened with the Mavericks after the original CP3 trade was shut down, because Odom was part of that original trade.

Now that we’ve done that, we can go and make the trade that sends CP3 to the other Los Angeles team. Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Odom to the Hornets, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and CP3 to the Lakers. There, now it’s time to take over the Lakers and win a championship.

Year 1

Looking at this roster, this team is very top-heavy. There’s Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, who are superstars, and Andrew Bynum, who is really solid, but other than that they’re pretty weak. However, for right now, I think we’re just going to sim through this year and see what happens. 

At the All-Star break, we’re 32-22, which is solid, but probably a sign that we’re not going to make any legitimate playoff push this season. However, a late-season push, that included a nine-game winning streak, let us finish the season at 53-29. LeBron James on the Heat won MVP and Defensive Player of the Year; Kyrie Irving on the Cavs won Rookie of the Year; Andre Miller on the Nuggets won Sixth Man of the Year and Tyreke Evans on the Kings won Most Improved Player.


Chris Paul in 2012.  Photo in the    public domain

Chris Paul in 2012. Photo in the public domain

CP3 was on All-NBA first team averaging 24.1 points, 9.9 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Kobe was on All-NBA second team averaging 33.2 points, 6.5 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Kobe also made All-Defensive first team and CP3 made All-Defensive second team.

The Lakers were a No. 4 seed and did end up sweeping the Nuggets in the first round, beat the Mavericks in seven and the Thunder in seven to make the finals before losing to LeBron and the Heat in six.

Year 2

The Lakers have the No. 22 pick, so we’ll probably be able to snag a solid rotational piece. Anthony Davis goes No. 1 to the Bucks (the Bobcats again had the best odds to win the lottery and missed out on Davis), Harrison Barnes goes No. 2 to the Clippers, Bradley Beal goes No. 3 to the Wizards and Draymond Green goes No. 4 to the Kings. At No. 22, we took Jeremy Lamb to be our sixth man or maybe even get some starting minutes at small forward. In the second round we took Will Barton, who should be another decent rotational piece. 

Now for free agency, the first priority is dumping some terrible contracts so I actually have some cap room to sign impact players. By trading away Christian Eyenga, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake, I freed up almost $20 million in cap space.

Time to go after my No. 1 target: Rudy Gay. I am very tempted to throw a max deal at James Harden, but we just don’t need any more guards, especially after our draft. We got Gay and also added Gerald Wallace, so now to go find our backups. We signed Matt Barnes, Jermaine O’Neal, Andrei Kirilenko, Chris Anderson and Richard Hamilton to minimum deals as well as got Baron Davis on a small (but not minimum) deal to be our backup point guard.

Hopefully, our lineup of CP3, Kobe, Rudy, Wallace and Bynum can get us to the promised land with Lamb, Barton, Barnes and Davis being solid off the bench. 

At the trade deadline, this team is a stellar 39-11. Kobe is hurt, but the team is still thriving, so I didn’t think I’d end up making any trades to fill that void. CP3 is averaging a double-double with points and assists on 50/40/90 shooting and Rudy and Bynum are averaging double-doubles with points and rebounds. 

And then, I happened across Gerald Wallace’s stat line. 7.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Not bad, especially for a fifth option, but he’s doing it on 31.5% shooting. We just can’t have that. Time to look for a true power forward, and I’ll tell you, the trade market was dry. What we ended up with was shipping Wallace and O’Neal to New Orleans for Emeka Okafor. Hopefully having a true power forward at that spot will be an improvement despite not really making an improvement talent-wise.


Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2013.  Photo in the    public domain

Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2013. Photo in the public domain

We finished the season 69-13, losing only two games after acquiring Okafor. LeBron won another MVP as the Heat went 71-11, so if we get to the finals, they’re going to be a handful. CP3 made All-NBA first team and Rudy Gay was All-NBA third team, but that’s where we found out some bad news — he tore his left tricep is done for the season. We’ll have to do our playoff run without the help of one of our best players. Not only that, but Kobe is still hurt, so make that two. It’s time for CP3 to really carry the load.

We’re the No. 1 seed, as expected, and in the first round swept the No. 8 seeded Warriors. Then, in the second round, we lost to the Nuggets in six. I have to think it would have gone better if we had Kobe and Rudy, but alas, we didn’t.

The Heat won the ship again, by the way.

Year 3

The Raptors took Giannis Antetokounmpo No. 1, the Rockets took Victor Oladipo No. 2 and the Pistons took Dennis Schroder No. 3. At No. 29, we picked up Gorgui Dieng, so hopefully, he’ll provide some depth at power forward and center. We also picked up Andre Roberson in the second round. 

In free agency, we are in danger of losing Andrew Bynum. Really, my goal this offseason is to run it back, and hopefully, this half of my starting lineup won’t get hurt. We added Nikola Pekovic to be our backup center, added T-Mac and Marreese Speights as depth and brought back Baron Davis and Matt Barnes for the bench.

We’re heading into the season with a lineup of CP3, Kobe, Rudy, Okafor and Bynum with Pekovic, Lamb, Barton, Barnes and Dieng being the first ones off the bench.

At the trade deadline, we’re 35-15, so we’ve already lost more games than we did the entirety of last season — but it’s by no means a bad record. Paul and Bynum are both beasting, Kobe is very solid at 36 and Rudy Gay is hurt again, but he should be fine for the playoffs so we’re just going to go right through to the end of the season.

We went on another hot run to end the season, finishing at a respectable 61-21. LeBron won the MVP again and CP3 made another All-NBA first team. This time though, we are the No. 2 seed, and get to go up against the team that knocked us out last year, Denver. This time though, we swept them. However, we did it without CP3, because he’s hurt.


Chris Paul for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012.  Photo in the    public domain

Chris Paul for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012. Photo in the public domain

Then, in round two, we lost in six to the Clippers.

That’s it.

I’m done.

All my players keep getting hurt for the playoffs.

CP3 is a free agent anyway, so there’s no guarantee I get him back.

At least we now know that if the trade was allowed to go through, it wouldn’t have changed anything. CP3 still has a hard time getting past the second round.

This is a good ole’ fashioned rage quit.

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Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.eckardt@uconn.edu. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31.

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