• Chris Paul recalls the vetoed deal that would have sent him to the Lakers in 2011
  • Paul revealed he already had a talk with Kobe Bryant before the trade was rejected
  • Paul admits he never fully appreciated his stint with the Clippers until he left for Houston in 2017

The thwarted deal that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles to team up with Kobe Bryant in 2011 remains one of the biggest regrets of the All-Star guard. Recalling the event, Paul rued the missed chance to play for championships with the Lakers as he revealed that he already had a chat with Bryant prior to the proposal getting vetoed by the Commissioner’s Office.

“I was on the phone with my brother and my agent, and all that. We figuring out a plane to get to New Orleans to get us to LA ... let’s just say my agent clicked over, said hold on, clicked over and then he came back on and he was like, stuttering,” Paul told Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on the “Knuckleheads” podcast, via Silver Screen and Roll. “And we was hot. We was hot. Me and Kobe had talked, you know what I’m saying? We had talked already and all that. And it was a lot. It was a lot.”

It was in December 2011 when the Lakers, the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans (then known as the Hornets) agreed on a deal that would send Paul to L.A. to don the purple and gold, only to be rejected by former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who cited vague “basketball reasons” as to why the deal did not reach its consummation.

The veteran playmaker still ended up in Hollywood, albeit not for the Lakers, but for the Clippers, which he helped turn from being an unheralded franchise placed behind the shadows of their L.A. rivals, to become legitimate playoff contenders in the West.

But the 10-time All-Star admits he had never really appreciated his stay with the Clips up until his departure in 2017 to play for the Rockets.

“I didn’t appreciate it enough probably until I left, dead serious, I can admit that,” Paul said, as transcribed by Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated. “Man, it was crazy playing with Blake and DJ. Everybody always talked about how I made them better, but they made me better. Some of them passes I threw probably should have been turnovers... all you had to do was keep it in the arena and one of them would get it.”

Now in his 15th season in the NBA, Paul has maintained his position as one of the most potent and reliable point guards in the league, and it is being evinced by his immediate impact on the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom he led to a 40-24 record in the Western Conference heading to the restart in Orlando.

Chris Paul Kobe Bryant
Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant made up the starting backcourt for the Western Conference in the 2013 All-Star Game. Reuters