The rumors linking Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers continue to heat up with the 2020-21 NBA season officially coming to a close. NBA insider Marc Stein calls the Lakers a “realistic threat” to adding Paul this offseason. Paul is widely expected to forego the final year of his current deal to become a free agent in August.
“Yet I still see the Lakers as the most realistic threat to derailing the Suns’ hopes of re-signing Paul, no matter how hard it is to pinpoint a pathway for them to acquire him because of the cap complexities,” Stein explained. “The reasoning: We know Paul would want to play again in Los Angeles, where his family still resides during the season, and also that he would want to play alongside James. The fact that Magic Johnson was tweeting about Paul-to-the-Lakers scenarios minutes after the Finals were over certainly won’t dissuade conspiracy theorists from believing that the Lakers are, at a minimum, exploring the options here.”
Paul’s Family Lives in Los Angeles
Stein cited Paul’s relationship with LeBron James as well as his family living in Los Angeles as two key contributing factors in the Lakers potentially landing the 10-time All-NBA point guard. The Lakers would likely need Paul to try to force his way to L.A. via a sign-and-trade this offseason.
“Don’t forget, furthermore, that it was the Suns’ proximity to Los Angeles, as much as the roster Phoenix had, that convinced Paul to push for a trade from Oklahoma City to Phoenix last November,” Stein added. “Location is of massive importance to him.”
The Lakers Need to Pull off a Sign-and-Trade to Add CP3
Stein’s report comes after The Undefeated’s Marc Spears noted the Lakers have shown an interest in Paul as well as Russell Westbrook. The challenge for the Lakers is they do not have cap space to add Paul outright, and the Suns are unlikely going to want to facilitate a sign-and-trade to another Western Conference contender.
“According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for a veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list,” Spears detailed. “There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.
“For Paul to join forces with James for the first time in their careers, it would likely take a sign-and-trade with the Suns. The most the over-the-cap Lakers can offer Paul without a sign-and-trade is a $9.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception. The attraction of chasing his first championship with James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers could be an appealing option for Paul to ponder. Keep in mind that Paul, a former LA Clippers star, still lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids.”
Paul Has a Close Relationship With James
Paul and James have been close friends throughout their careers. James just recently attended Game 5 of the NBA Finals to cheer on Paul as he attempted to win his first championship.
“I am [watching the NBA Finals], I have a horse in the race and he goes by the name of Chris Paul,” James said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “That is my brother, and we’ve known each other since my junior year in high school, his sophomore year. We actually met for the first time when we were in eighth grade. We played in the same AAU national basketball tournament in Orlando, Florida, and then we officially met my junior year, his sophomore year. I mean, we’ve been friends ever since.”
Whether or not the Lakers are able to land Paul, the early indications are the team will have a new starting point guard when next season tips off. Stein reported that the Lakers’ interest in re-signing Dennis Schroder appears to be dwindling.
“A related aside: Seemingly daily discussion about the Lakers’ interest in various veteran guards not named Dennis Schröder increasingly suggest that the Schröder’s future is elsewhere,” Stein noted.