35-year-old Chris Paul proved his worth this past season, leading an underdog Thunder team to the 5th seed in the Western Conference.
Though Paul is past his physical prime, his leadership and playmaking abilities remain among the best in the league, leading to increased interest for him on the trade market.
According to a report by "Knicks Film School’s" Jonathan Macri, however, the veteran guard has his eyes set for Los Angeles.
“I’ve been told by a league source that Chris Paul prefers his next basketball home to be either in L.A. or N.Y. (Los Angeles is where he resides full time) and that has created some modicum of leverage in the ongoing negotiations between the sides."
While the Knicks remain a strong contender for the 10x All-Star, the Lakers are also in a good position to strike a deal -- and with their current assets, there are multiple ways in which they can get it done.
3. Trade Package: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Player Option), Avery Bradley (Player Option), Quinn Cook, 2020 No. 28 Pick
Trading away Kuzma, Green, KCP, Bradley, Quinn, and Pope would be an enormous blow to LA's backcourt depth. With just Rondo, Caruso, and Paul, they would need to follow this trade with a series of moves to add some more rotational players in the backcourt. Still, it would grant them CP3 without having to give up any bigs.
For the Thunder, the inclusion of Kyle Kuzma in a deal is likely to be a deal-breaker for them. The young forward is a career 16-point-per game scorer over three seasons in the NBA. He would join Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, and Luguentz Dort as the cornerstones of the roster. If they want to continue building for their future, Pope, Bradley, and Green could be used to flip for younger players or draft picks.
2. Trade Package: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley (Player Option), JaVale McGee (Player Option), 2020 No. 28 pick
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a huge part of LA's rotation for the 2019-20 season. As a reliable shooter and capable defender, he is probably not someone the Lakers are keen on losing. Instead of including him in a potential CP3 deal, they could add 32-year-old JaVale McGee in the package instead, essentially putting out a starting lineup of Paul, Pope, James, Davis, and Howard if they are able to c0mplete a deal.
For the Thunder, the addition of McGee gives them a viable back up at the center spot, but it's really all about clearing up their cap and trying to accumulate assets for the future. The expiring deals of Green, Bradley, and McGee could become very interesting for contending organizations in trade talks, which they could obviously use to build up their treasure trove.
1. Trade Package: Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee (Player Option), Quinn Cook, 2027 LA First Round Pick For Chris Paul, Terrance Ferguson
It will be tough for the Lakers to pull off a scenario in which they're able to acquire Paul without trading Kuzma. Obviously, the Thunder are more focused on building their future -- even despite their recent playoff appearance.
But CP3 is owed about $85 million over the next two seasons. To pay that price for a 35-year-old guard when your team is not in a position to win a title is definitely not ideal.
So, Danny Green, KCP, McGee, Cook, and a 2027 first-rounder might just be enough to get the job done for LA. In return for Paul, the Thunder get a couple of sharpshooters and a first-round pick. This is probably the least likely scenario, but it could become a reality, especially if Paul is pushing for a way out of his current situation.