The season ended much quicker for the Los Angeles Lakers than anybody expected. Though injuries are largely to blame for the early playoff exit, the team clearly has big issues they need to solve. Over the last few years, the team has tried to find a legit third star or at least third option behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
There have been times when certain players fill that role but it hasn’t been consistent. Dennis Schroder was supposed to be that guy this season but he really struggled in the playoffs.
Instead of looking for a solid third option, the Lakers could turn their focus to landing a legit third star. With money tight and not many tradeable assets, Los Angeles will need to get creative if they hope to make a splash this offseason. Chris Paul may have just bounced the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, but some believe that he could want to join his friend LeBron in Los Angeles. Zack Buckley of Bleacher Report says the team should at least make a run at the 11-time All-Star.
“Same goes with James’ close friend (and first-round foe) Chris Paul, who intends to decline his $44.4 million player option, per B/R’s Eric Pincus,” wrote Buckley. “Pair any two of James, Paul and Davis in two-man actions, and L.A. could have an unstoppable formula for half-court offense.”
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What Would It Take to Get Paul Away From Suns?
Paul has completely transformed the Phoenix Suns from NBA bottom feeders to title contenders overnight. However, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be open to leaving. As Buckley pointed out, Paul plans to decline his player option, which will land him in free agency. The Suns will likely still be the favorites to keep him but a lot can happen.
Phoenix is looking really good in the playoffs right now but if they make it to the NBA Finals and get swept by the Brooklyn Nets’ superteam, the message to the rest of the league would be clear: Superstars need to form superteams of their own if they hope to compete with Brooklyn.
Paul is 36 years old and has a long injury history. The clock is ticking on his career. If he doesn’t believe the Suns have enough to beat the Nets, he could team up with LeBron to make one final run at a championship.
The Lakers do not have the room to sign Paul outright, unless he took a midlevel contract (which he won’t). But a package built around a sign-and-trade of Dennis Schroder, with Kyle Kuzma and whomever the Lakers draft in July, plus a future first-rounder (2026), would be about as good as the Lakers could do.
Other Players for Lakers to Target
Landing Paul will be a longshot but that doesn’t mean the Lakers won’t have other options. What’s going to be important is that the team finds a dependable third scorer. DeMar DeRozan makes a bit of sense. He’s a consistent scorer and he’s from Los Angeles. He would’ve once commanded star money but could take a bit of a discount to play for his hometown team and compete for a championship.
DeRozan would be a good pickup but the fact that he can’t shoot 3-pointers is concerning. He shoots 28.1% from beyond the arc despite averaging 20.1 points game over his career. If the Lakers would rather go after a point guard, they should look at Kyle Lowry. The team had an interest in him at the trade deadline and now he’s set to hit free agency. He won’t be cheap but adding him would give Los Angeles a legit third star.