It has been nearly two years since Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers, kicking into high gear the professional hoops power shift currently underway in Los Angeles.
But for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, time has apparently healed no wounds. He’s still ticked at David Stern.
If you recall, the Lakers actually agreed to a deal for Paul, then with the New Orleans Hornets, just as the NBA was preparing to begin a season delayed and shortened by a lockout. But the Hornets at that time were owned by the NBA, and the league held final say over personnel moves. For what was believed to be the first time since acquiring the franchise in 2010, the league used its veto power and killed the deal on Dec. 8, 2011. A week later, Paul was a Clipper.
Speaking at a Sunday morning event for season-ticket holders at Staples Center, Kupchak spoke about the pending retirement of Stern, who is stepping down in February.
". . . We’ll miss him, with the exception of one moment."
Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz, moderating the event, dug a little deeper.
"Have you forgiven him for that one moment?" he asked.
"No I haven’t," Kupchak answered.
The deal the NBA vetoed:
Lakers would have received Paul; Rockets would have received forward/center Pau Gasol; Hornets would have received guard Kevin Martin, forward Luis Scola, swingman Lamar Odom, guard Goran Dragic and 2012 first-round pick Houston had acquired from Knicks.
The deal the NBA approved:
Clippers received Paul and two second-round picks, Hornets received guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round pick.
How history has treated the teams since:
• Clippers: 96-52 entering this season, lost in conference semifinals in 2011-12, lost in first round in 2012-13.
• Lakers: 86-62, lost in conference semifinals in 2011-12, lost in first round in 2012-13.
• Hornets: 48-100, no playoff appearances, purchased by Saints owner Tom Benson in 2012, landed No. 1 pick in 2012 draft and selected Anthony Davis, traded for point guard Jrue Holiday during 2013 draft, now call themselves the Pelicans.
The results: The Clippers are flashier, but only 10 games better than the Lakers with Paul (and with the same playoff … uhhh … success). Despite the loss of Paul, New Orleans has added a franchise big man, an All-Star point guard, an owner and a new team name.
The verdict: The Hornets / Pelicans have enjoyed the biggest haul. But the clincher? They have this mascot: