The NBA is like one of those video games you play where one decision can affect the rest of the story.
Just like those video games, the most obscure trade or draft pick etc. can change the entire landscape of the league. Just image what if Kevin Durant went number one to the Portland Trail Blazers instead of the Seattle Supersonics? What if LeBron James didn’t leave Cleveland in the first place? All these decisions eventually made an impact on the NBA whether it is a big impact or a small impact.
One scenario that most NBA fans don’t take notice of is a trade between the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2011. Sure, these teams at that time were at the bottom of the league, and you can’t blame an NBA fan for not really noticing that trade, but this trade could have changed the entire landscape of the NBA.
In this trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Mo Williams and Jamario Moon in exchange for Baron Davis and a first-round pick.
At first glance, it seems such a minor trade that it probably wouldn’t affected the league in a huge way.
Well, it actually did.
See, that first-round pick that the Clippers traded to the Cavaliers turned out to be the no. 1 overall pick in the draft, and that pick was used to select future All-Star, Kyrie Irving.
What if the Clippers never pulled that trade off and kept their pick? Could Kyrie Irving be running the show in LA with Blake Griffin?
Welcome to the NBA What If.
Let’s look at the trade again.
The Clippers, hoping to shed some salary off to bring back DeAndre Jordan and keep Eric Gordon, traded Baron Davis to the Cavaliers in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Of course, they included their 1st-round pick to make their offer more appealing to Cleveland. As mentioned earlier, that pick that Los Angeles traded away turned out to be the no. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. As we all know the #1 overall pick in the draft in that draft class is none other that Uncle Drew, Kyrie Irving.
Let’s say that the Clippers backed off in the trade and decided to keep Kyrie. What could possibly happen to their team?
For starters, the Clippers would have their future PG of their franchise in Kyrie Irving. Along with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and maybe Eric Gordon, this team would be set to contend once they gain experience. We have to keep in mind however, that Clippers executed this trade because they needed to shed Baron Davis’ salary in order to keep Jordan and Gordon. In this what if scenario, we assume that the Clippers find another trade partner for Baron Davis in order to get their salary cap cleared. That would mean that the Clippers would have the necessary finances to keep both Jordan and Gordon along with their young stars, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin.
Now let’s jump to another team.
During the offseason after the draft, All-Star point guard Chris Paul wanted to be traded to a new team because he felt that the New Orleans
Hornets didn’t build a good enough team to contend for a championship. As a result, New Orleans decided to look for trade partners for Paul.
As any NBA fan would know, Paul was first traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would have the chance to win a championship with superstar, Kobe Bryant. The deal was a three-team trade. The Hornets, the Rockets, and the Lakers. The Hornets received Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. The Rockets got Pau Gasol and the Lakers got Chris Paul. Then, it all got vetoed. In case you didn’t know, David Stern, the commissioner and the then acting owner of the Hornets, decided to veto the trade. Stern and the rest of the league felt that the Hornets did not receive equal value for a player of Paul’s caliber.
The three teams eventually called off the trade and the Clippers traded for the All-Star PG.
This is where the fun begins.
Remember, in this scenario, the Clippers kept their pick that turned out to be Kyrie Irving and kept DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, and Eric Gordon, a player that was in the trade for Chris Paul in the original scenario.
So the Hornets don’t have a trade partner for Paul since Kyrie is in Los Angeles. So what do they do? They could’ve visited other trade partners, but keep in mind that Chris Paul wanted to be traded to a team where he could contend for a championship. Let’s just say that the Rockets, Hornets, Lakers decided to revisit the trade talks. Since New Orleans can’t find another legitimate trade partner, they decide to accept the original offer. This means that Chris Paul would be wearing a Lakers uniform instead of a Clippers uniform.
Jumping back into the original teams discussed.
The Clippers, now with a young core of Irving, Blake, Jordan, and Gordon, are set with their team. The Cavaliers on the other hand, have no young star in Kyrie Irving anymore and are already a bad team as is. They finish at the bottom of the league the following season, with less wins since they don’t have Irving. Let’s say the Cavaliers get the no. 1 pick in the draft the following draft. Who do they select? Future NBA Star, Anthony Davis. Yes, Anthony Davis now goes to the Cleveland Cavaliers after they finish with the worst record in the league. The Cavaliers may not have their franchise point guard in this scenario, but Anthony Davis is one pretty good consolidation price.
Skipping the horrendous 2013 Draft, in which the Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett, we now move on to the 2014 NBA Draft. The Cavaliers luckily landed the no. 1 overall pick again even with a record that’s not as bad compared to other teams. They select Andrew Wiggins, as they did in the original scenario. That same year, LeBron went back to Cleveland in hopes to win a title for his hometown. However, he only went there because Kyrie Irving was proving to be a championship caliber player. Does that mean LeBron doesn’t go back to Cleveland? Of course he does. Remember, Cleveland has Anthony Davis in this what if scenario. LeBron can team-up with a star big man in Cleveland for The Land.
What happens to Andrew Wiggins you may ask? Well, since LeBron wants to win a title, they trade him again to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. A front court of Anthony Davis and Kevin Love mixed with the best player in the league? Sounds good to LeBron.
-The Clippers now have a young core of Kyrie, Blake, DeAndre, and Gordon as potential contending team.
-The Houston Rockets now have Pau Gasol, a reliable replacement for retired Yao Ming.
-The New Orleans Hornets now receive key veterans along with Goran Dragic and a pick to build their team.
-The Los Angeles Lakers get their superstar PG, Paul to pair with Bryant for a couple championships.
-The Cleveland Cavaliers end up landing Anthony Davis, Kevin Love and get LeBron back after.
There are many more moves that could’ve happened in this scenario like the Harden trade, and even the Dwight trade, but for now we’ll stick with this.
See what CAN happen with even just a simple trade? The NBA is so dynamic, one trade or one different draft selection could change the NBA as we know it.
Featured Photo Image Credits go to: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images