Lakers Dubbed Top Destination for $30 Million Point Guard

Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Anthony Davis #3 and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers have always been in the star business, but stars at value can shine even brighter across what are often short lifespans in L.A.

That appears to be the situation developing in front of Golden State Warriors point guard Chris Paul, who will hit free agency this summer if the team chooses to release him ahead of a June 28 deadline. Most insiders expect that cut is inevitable, as Paul will earn $30 million on the final year of his $120 million contract should the Dubs keep him on the roster.

Relying on a relatively sturdy assumption that Paul lands on the market in the coming weeks, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report named the Lakers as the “best landing spot” for him on Saturday, June 15.

If he’s willing to play a backup role like he did last season for the Warriors, there might be 20 teams that’d happily take him aboard and benefit from his presence in the rotation. … Realistically, though, Paul might still prefer to start and win as much as possible.

That leaves a thinner field, led by a Los Angeles Lakers team that will likely be built around an age-40-season LeBron James. At least Paul would clearly fit the timeline here.

If D’Angelo Russell declines his player option and enters free agency, the Lakers will have a glaring void at the 1. And if they also hire a relatively untested head coach, it’ll help to have someone with Paul’s experience to complement James. Even if Russell picks up his option, CP3 could provide insurance or even give the Lakers more confidence in trading Russell away to fill out other areas of the roster.

Chris Paul Predicted to Sign With Lakers at Big Discount

Chris Paul

GettyChris Paul of the Golden State Warriors.

What makes Paul potentially valuable to the Lakers, beyond his 19 years of NBA experience and 12 All-Star game selections, is how much of a discount they could potentially get by bringing the point guard back to the city in which his family resides.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report predicted on Friday that Paul, 39, will ultimately sign a $3.3 million veteran’s minimum deal to finally land on the Lakers roster — almost a 90% discount from what the Warriors will have to pay him to keep Paul in the Bay Area.

“While L.A. needs to infuse the roster with youth, the team also needs smart, veteran players,” Pincus wrote. “Paul was almost a Laker in 2011, but the deal was scuttled by David Stern, the late NBA commissioner who was operating as the owner of the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) before it was sold to the Benson family. Paul never got to play with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but now he gets the chance to don the purple and gold alongside James.”

Lakers Must Find Quality Players at Value, Which May Mean Getting Even Older

Chris Paul

GettyChris Paul of the Golden State Warriors.

As noted by Pincus and Hughes, Paul would make one of the oldest playoff teams in the Western Conference even more elderly by comparison to some of the up-and-coming franchises like the Oklahoma City Thunder or Minnesota Timberwolves, or even the outfits that have already arrived like the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

That said, if James opts out of the final year of his contract in the next couple weeks (worth $51.4 million), his return cost is only going to go up. Anthony Davis is also going to earn an estimated $43.2 million in 2024-25 — a figure that is only going to increase when his three-year, $177 million extension kicks in the following season.

The Lakers are going to need competent players in their starting lineup and/or rotation who are willing to play for minimal dollars relative to the rest of the team, the rest of the league and/or said player’s true free market value. Paul has earned almost $390 million on the court during his NBA career, and that number doesn’t factor in all of his off-court endorsement deals.

Money probably isn’t the same kind of concern it once was for Paul, when moving back to Los Angeles is a decision he can justify by way of family and the potential chance to win at a high level depending on what other personnel moves the Lakers can swing this summer.

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