The Ripple Effect from the Chris Paul Trade

A look at Chris Paul’s career so far and what his trade to Houston means for the future of the league.

Photo Courtesy of Kirby Lee — USA Today Sports

Six years ago, amid the end of the 2011 NBA lockout, former commissioner David Stern terminated a blockbuster trade that would have sent point guard Chris Paul from the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. That trade focused on sending Lakers Forward Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets, while shipping Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, and a first round pick to New Orleans. Rumors of this proposed trade sent shockwaves throughout the NBA community, exciting fans after a prolonged hiatus of professional basketball. Unfortunately, with the trade being vetoed by David Stern, we can still only express the same initial thoughts that Chris Paul had.

We can only say wow ourselves to the thought of witnessing a Kobe Bryant — Chris Paul backcourt. Eventually, Chris Paul had his wish and was dealt to a Los Angeles basketball team, but not the one we were all thinking of.

On December 10 2011, Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Forouq Aminu, and a first round pick originally owned by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Blake Griffin was teaming up with Chris Paul and “Lob City” was born. The Clippers, who had never played in the Western Conference Finals, had finally built a team that made them formidable championship contenders.

Much has changed for the Clippers since that trade transpired. Doc Rivers became the coach, former owner Donald Sterling was banished by the NBA after his racist scandals, opening the door for former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, to buy the Clippers. With a change of culture and stability, the Clippers were expected to be a dominant force in the NBA. Fast forward to today and the Clippers still have not known what it is like to take part in neither the NBA Finals nor Western Conference Finals.

With multiple regular season franchise records asserting their dominance, the Clippers were still unable to make any decibel of noise in the postseason. In 2015, the Houston Rockets were miraculously able to defeat the Clippers after being down 3–1 in the series. Whether it was through a lack of depth, focus, or injuries that shut down the stars, Chris Paul and the Clippers were unable to accomplish the ultimate goal of wining a championship. That series loss may have opened Paul’s eyes for the future of his career on the court.

With Chris Paul’s player option looming this offseason, he decided to move on from Hollywood and join coach Mike D’Antoni and James Harden down in Houston via trade. Houston now holds what could arguably be the most dynamic backcourt in the entire league, pairing Paul with last seasons MVP finalist, Harden. Under D’Antoni’s system, fans can now look forward to nostalgic, fast-paced offense reminiscent of the “7 seconds or less” Phoenix Suns ran by future Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash.

Barring Adam Silver vetoing the trade and Laker fans revolting from repressed memories of what could’ve been, this trade is official. But what will come of the rest of the NBA as another super team is beginning to take shape?

The Western Conference continues to be very top-heavy after this trade. With Blake Griffin’s free agency decision coming soon, the Clippers may very well begin to blow up all of their assets and start to rebuild.

However, do the champion Golden State Warriors finally have a formidable opponent in their conference as they continue their quest to build a dynasty? Other teams, such as Denver, Minnesota or Portland, may very well have a chance to enter the Western conference playoff race with the Clippers potentially taking a step back after dealing Paul.

The dominoes are starting to fall. The NBA Draft is over. David Griffin has parted ways with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Knicks owner James Dolan finally had the time to not only mull over Phil Jackson’s future with the organization, but also muster up the audacity to fire him and maybe give New Yorkers some assurance that their team isn’t a dumpster fire. And will Carmelo Anthony finally get traded and live out his dream of becoming part of the banana boat brotherhood? The NBA offseason is in full swing and we can’t wait to see what else will happen.