And in fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kyle Lowry; and we had a trade lined up for [Lamar] Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick. Not we, but my basketball folks. But [Kupchack] at the time panicked, and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn't even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it—just about what was good for the then New Orleans Hornets.
Since the move happened five-and-a-half years ago, most NBA fans have moved on. Granted, Paul joining the Lakers ahead of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season is one of the bigger what ifs from the last decade.
It's far from a guarantee Paul's arrival would've had the galvanizing affect the Lakers expected by potentially acquiring the star point guard. A backcourt of Paul and Kobe Bryant looked great on paper, but the same was said of the Lakers when they added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash a year later.
Los Angeles went 45-37 and lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2012-13.
According to the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps, Howard may have joined Paul and Bryant in Los Angeles in 2011-12 as well, which would've certainly created an interesting dynamic on the court.
Some Lakers fans will likely never forgive Stern for his role in the Paul trade, but at least Los Angeles seemingly has a bright future ahead for the first time in a long time.
The Lakers may have finished 26-56 this year, but they're assembling a strong core of young players and own the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
While the Lakers are still a few years away from top-four contention in the Western Conference, they may still wind up winning another title before the Clippers, who are facing an offseason in which Paul and Blake Griffin are eligible for free agency.