After his impressive campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 35-year-old Chris Paul has been the subject of countless trade rumors as teams look to improve their roster for the 2020-21 season.
Naturally, talks of a mashup with LeBron in L.A. have already surfaced, with the most recent coming from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. In an article, Pincus details what it might take for the Purple and Gold to add the veteran floor-general to their roster.
As you might expect, the price is pretty steep.
It's one of the worst-kept secrets in the league that LeBron is heavily involved in his agency's maneuverings, and why NBA execs can easily see LeBron pushing the Lakers to trade for an old friend this offseason.
If James set his sights on Paul, the Lakers would have to send out five players: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green and Quinn Cook, along with Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee, who need to opt into their contracts to be dealt. L.A. would also need to send its No. 28 pick in November's draft, signing that player before waiting 30 days to execute a deal in which the Lakers would offload almost $33 million in players salaries.
For a team coming off their 17th Championship, it is questionable to give up such a huge chunk of the roster. But NBA executives seem convinced it's the right move to make.
"It seems like a risk, but sometimes you need to [execute big moves] to make yourself even better," said one NBA. "The [Golden State] Warriors will be better. The [Los Angeles] Clippers may be better. The [Denver] Nuggets aren't going to get worse. Your competition is getting better. It worked [in Orlando] for the Lakers, but I don't know if you have a normal regular season without the bubble if it does."
Simply running it back with the same crew next year may not be enough to succeed in an NBA landscape that is only getting better, especially as LeBron James continues to get older. But is Chris Paul enough to keep this team on top?
Coming off his 15th season, CP3 averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, and 5 rebounds per game on 48% shooting. While no longer in his prime, Paul has proven he is an asset to any team with his playmaking, scoring, and leadership abilities. He would thrive on the floor with LeBron and AD.
"It's a no-brainer to get a third scorer [and playmaker] like Chris. It's a really valid and viable scenario," the executive added. "Will it happen? I don't know, but if I'm the Lakers [or] if I'm LeBron, that's what I go for. They might be able to get a pick back from the Thunder, like [the Miami Heat's 2021 previously acquired by Oklahoma City]."
Chris already has the love and respect of LeBron James and a history of playing in Los Angeles. He's an ideal fit for a Lakers team ready to put everything on the line for a chance at more titles.
Paul, who has already been involved in countless trade rumors (Knicks, Bucks, Pelicans), has quietly become one of the league's hottest trade targets and the Lakers will, no doubt, have to compete with many other teams if/when he gets made available by the Thunder.
It will be interesting to see just how much they value what he brings to the table.