The Los Angeles Lakers seem to steal all the headlines every season. Whether they are good or bad in a particular season, there is something about the Purple and Gold that influences fans and media alike. Now with the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the franchise players, the hype is even more real.
The Lakers made no secret that they wanted a third star to pair with their All-NBA duo in James and Davis. They went after Kawhi Leonard, who turned around and joined the rival Clippers. They had to settle with only James and Davis as their stars, with the likes of Kyle Kuzma and others expected to help out as a unit. But the Lakers need a third star if they want to be the undisputed favorites in the league because they rely too much on a 35-year old LeBron James to do all the playmaking.
Luckily, there is a Hall of Fame point guard with plenty of fire in his belly who is still playing at a high level in the NBA. Chris Paul was traded by Houston after he looked old and slow in last year's playoffs, and he has bounced back as one of the best pure leaders and playmakers in the game right now. Paul is the best option for the Lakers right now, and here is how they can get him in the off-season.
Trade Package: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley (Player Option), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Player Option), 2027 First Round Pick for Chris Paul
Chris Paul is averaging 17.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 6.8 APG while leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the 5th seed in a very competitive Western Conference. He once again tops the league as one of the best pure passers and leaders on the court and has kept the Thunder relevant when they were expected to be bottom dwellers after they lost Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the offseason. Chris Paul's value is at its best right now, so the Thunder should move him. At the same time, he is playing sensational ball and the Lakers must go after him.
The key to this deal for the Lakers is Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers need to only offer close to 80% of Paul's contract, so this means Kuzma and a host of role players must be moved. The reason Kuzma is the most important piece is that he has the most upside on the team besides Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Kuzma is having somewhat of a quiet year by posting 12.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG on 43.3% shooting, but we all know he has the talent and mentality to be an effective option on offense. For a rebuilding team like the Thunder, Kuzma fits right in.
Kuzma and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are excellent building pieces for the future and the Thunder would certainly welcome that. For the Lakers, Paul's playmaking and leadership will relieve a heavy burden off of LeBron James and also extend his playing career. LeBron is leading the NBA in assists per game (10.4 APG) and also might finish second in MVP voting this season behind Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While this is impressive, LeBron can't be expected to defy father time for too long, so they need to look for help. The Lakers went after the likes of Derrick Rose earlier this season in order to help with the playmaking, but they have no one to help LeBron; especially with Rajon Rondo out for the season. Chris Paul immediately addresses this issue.
Trading for Chris Paul would also be a huge slap on the face to the rival Clippers, who managed to woo Kawhi away from them before the start of the season. Paul is arguably the greatest Clippers player ever, so this would be excellent for the rivalry between the teams. Paul, James, and Davis would certainly make the Lakers the favorite in the West and possibly win an NBA title together.