Honestly, it never made much sense, this online fantasy of the Lakers acquiring NBA All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the Thunder. Sure, Paul is great friends with Lakers star LeBron James but then, James has lots of friends. They do not all play alongside him.
The Lakers do not have cap space, nor do they have the salaries to match up on a deal with the Thunder for Paul. The Lakers are also more intent on fielding a young team with players who match up in age with star big man Anthony Davis—who is 27—than on bringing in elderly friends of LeBron James, which is the case with Paul, who is 35 and will be 36 when the season is over.
The news on Monday, that Paul was being dealt to Phoenix, confirmed that logic—Paul was never going to make sense with the Lakers, no matter how many of us media types tried to will that trade into existence.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Chris Paul Had Been Said to Seek a Trade to the Lakers
Paul had been said to be seeking a trade to either the Lakers or the Knicks, but neither had a deal forthcoming.
The Suns were able to give up young assets in the deal, the type that few other teams across the league have in store. Oklahoma City got versatile forward Kelly Oubre in return, giving the Thunder a solid 24-year-old (he turns 25 next month) small forward who averaged 18.7 points last season and has gotten better in each season of his career. He is also known for his quality defense.
The Thunder also got a known quantity in the final year of his contract, Ricky Rubio, as part of the package. They brought in two exciting young players, guards Jalen Lecque and Ty Jerome, in the deal, as well as the Suns’ 2022 first-round pick.
Rubio could be of special interest in the deal because the Thunder could look to flip him in a trade immediately. Much like the Lakers’ trade with OKC over the weekend, which sent guard Dennis Schroder to L.A. for Danny Green and this year’s draft pick, the Thunder could seek to flip Rubio to a contender.
That could hurt the Lakers, should Rubio be flipped to a contender.
Chris Paul to the Lakers Talk Had Been Simmering
There was long-simmering speculation that Paul would wind up with the Lakers, finishing out his career—and his very expensive contract—alongside longtime friend LeBron James. But Paul is owed $85 million over the next two seasons, and with the Lakers hoping to keep their cap flexibility intact going into next year, the path to the Lakers always was convoluted.
That did not keep talking heads like NBA veteran and former James teammate Kendrick Perkins from speculating that Paul would land in L.A. As Perkins said:
We all know how great of friends LeBron James and Chris Paul are. Chris Paul has been on record this offseason saying that his destinations are the Lakers in L.A. or with New York. And I think he’s going to be a Laker. I’m telling you. I can see it happening right now, with him and Sam Presti possibly coming up with a buyout if they can’t come together and get a trade done. I’m like 85% sure Chris Paul will be a Laker next year.
Looks like the 15% that was not so sure about Paul in L.A. wins.