HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Remember those few hours when Chris Paul was a Los Angeles Laker?
It seems weird, but the proposed trade that would have sent the league’s best point guard to the other L.A. team hardly registers when the Staples Center roommates are set to meet on the floor, which they’ll do for the second time this season on Friday night (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The non-trade isn’t something that Paul concerns himself with, as Sam Amick of USA Today writes…
The what-might-have-beens don’t enter Chris Paul’s mind anymore.
As his Clippers prepare for the latest Los Angeles turf war on Friday night at Staples Center against the Lakers team to which he was almost traded back in December of 2011, the point guard who has transformed one of the worst organizations in professional sports into a legitimate title contender wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cue Taylor Swift…
“Never, ever – ever, ever,” he told USA TODAY Sports emphatically on Wednesday night when asked how often he wonders what life with the Lakers might have been like before commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal with New Orleans back then for those infamous “basketball reasons.”
And why would he?
The Clippers are 25-8. The Lakers are 15-16. Barring injury, there’s basically no way that the Lakers will finish ahead of the Clips come April 17.
Sure, the Lakers can get better between now and then. But Paul is of the mind set that so can the Clippers. And he knows that being nine games ahead of the Lakers in early January means nothing.
And as far as the bigger picture (and his impending free agency), Paul is happy with how the Clippers organization has built a contender…
The most remarkable part of all, however, is that the Clippers have managed to convince Paul that they’re serious about winning it all. If he’s going to re-sign as a free agent this summer – and all current indications would point to that happening – that was a must.
“Yeah, no question; no question,” he said when asked that very question about the organization. “That’s what we’re trying to do.
“This summer, when we got this team together (he was convinced). I realized that that’s the mentality we’ve got. You get older, and you realize that these teams don’t’ come by too often. So for me, I’ve got a beautiful family, got great friends and family and stuff like that. I just want to win a championship. That’s all I need.”
There’s a whole maze of “what ifs” regarding that trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston, and Kevin Martin to New Orleans. And it was just 13 months ago when all that went down. But a lot has happened in those 13 months, and Paul has more than moved on.