When the initial deal that would have made Chris Paul a Los Angeles Laker was nixed by NBA commissioner David Stern, a flurry of subsequent moves were either done or undone. That single botched move had a tremendous effect on the league-wide trade and free-agent landscape, and played a part in the courtship and decision of virtually every major acquisition of the 2012 NBA offseason.
That Paul ended up going to the Clippers was only one of the ripple effects. The other team in L.A. lost their chance at nabbing another superstar. Houston’s plans for the future were altered radically. And New Orleans scored a rebuilding package structured around Eric Gordon and future flexibility rather than adding Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Lamar Odom.
Yet even that alternate scenario would have been fleeting; according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Hornets would merely have been an intermediary landing spot for Odom, and if there are any tea leaves to be read in that potential move, perhaps the same would have become of Martin and Scola as well. From Stein’s report:
In a deal that NBA commissioner David Stern ultimately canceled, acting as the lead decision-maker for the then-league-owned Hornets, Odom was included as part of the package bound for New Orleans (along with the Rockets‘ Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic) in exchange for Paul, with Houston poised to acquire the Lakers‘ Pau Gasol.
Sources say that the Hornets, had they been able to trade Paul to the Lakers instead of the Clippers, were well aware that Odom would not be taking his exile from Lakerland well and thus had a trade lined up with New Jersey that would have sent Odom to Deron Williams’ Nets in exchange for a future first-round pick.
That Odom would have hypothetically been dealt to the then leading suitor for Dwight Howard registers as a major development. It completes another serious tie between the rejected Paul trade and Howard’s eventual fate.
Consider that had New Jersey scored Odom, it would have changed their plans, strategies and assets one way or another. And while that acquisition wouldn’t have necessarily changed the course of events as they came to pass with Howard and the Magic, it certainly would have changed the way that the Nets approached them.
David Stern’s “basketball reasons,” changed the entire NBA as we now know it. There’s an alternate universe out there in which Paul is a Laker, Pau Gasol is a Rocket and the trio of Deron Williams, Lamar Odom and Dwight Howard are set to lead the Nets to Brooklyn. Maybe Nene landed in Houston for good measure or David West ended up a Celtic, but regardless, the future of the league would be written in butterfly effects.
It all goes back to Paul, to Howard and to guys like Odom—those who will always be tangentially connected to the tale as the dominoes that should have fallen.
Read more New Jersey Nets news on BleacherReport.com