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Chris Paul’s Likely Offseason Suitors, Revealed

Los Angeles Lakers trade target, Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul greets San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama

The media focus with regard to the Los Angeles Lakers has been the possibility that they add a high octane scorer like Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young or Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell. Yet, their situation could call for a more subtle approach.

Averaging 118.0 points per game (6th in the NBA) during the 2023-24 regular season, the Lakers’ problem wasn’t scoring. Aside from their miserable defense, their offensive was uneconomical. In fact, the LA had a 115.9 offensive rating (15th in the NBA) and 14.0 turnovers per game (19th in the NBA) in 2023-24. In short, LA appears to have needed a better system or general.

To that end, the Lakers have already dismissed former head coach Darvin Ham. Two former players —JJ Redick and Sam Cassell —are among the favorites to replace Ham. Redick, a friend of LeBron James, is drawing comparisons to Pat Riley. Cassell, who starred in the NBA and won three championships, is someone whose résumé deserves respect.

However, the Lakers could also use a point guard. With D’Angelo Russell deciding to opt out of his contract after another underwhelming postseason run, they’ll likely need a starter.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, “the (San Antonio) Spurs and Lakers keep coming up as potential suitors” for future Hall of Fame guard, Chris Paul.

Chris Paul’s Likely Offseason Suitors, Revealed

The idea of Paul joining the Lakers will create painful memories for their diehard fans.

In 2011, a trade that would have sent Paul to L.A. to play alongside Kobe Bryant in the backcourt was vetoed by late NBA commissioner David Stern. Paul had averaged 21.2 points, 11.2 assists, and 2.6 steals per game in his previous three seasons. In that time, led the league in both assists and steals twice.

But, that was then.

Now, Paul is a 39-year-old preparing to enter the final year of his deal. Though retirement is on the horizon, he remains an elite facilitator and 3-point threat. In 2023-24, his hands were fast enough for him to continue his 19-year streak of averaging at least 1 steal per game. Unfortunately for Paul, he’s lost enough quickness for it to diminish his impact on both ends.

It’s Hard to Ignore Chemistry

At this stage of his career, Paul isn’t a more reliable defender than LA’s most recent point guards.

Nonetheless, he’s a great fit offensively. With his basketball IQ, ball-handling, court vision, and passing ability, he can take a lot of playmaking pressure off James. His longtime friendship with James also figures to help him make the former No. 1 pick’s job easier baskets.

To that point, a career-high 48.9 percent of James’s field goals were assisted last season. Yet, his closest defender was within four feet of him on 50.8 percent of his shot attempts. Paul should be able to generate cleaner looks for him.

A point guard who’ll consistently knock down open looks as well, Paul has many of the traits that LA desires.

Only Time Will Tell

Paul’s arrival still leaves a couple of questions.

The defense is chief among them. Even though Anthony Davis can be a one-man cleanup crew, he might be overburdened by leaky backcourt defense. At the other end, while James is comfortable playing without the ball, he’s never shared the ball with a true floor general. Though they’ll work through whatever issues may arise, how uncomfortable will the gelling process be?

San Antonio Spurs Lurking?

Paul playing in San Antonio may be the only way for him to keep his $30 million salary. The Spurs are projected to have $21.3 million in cap space this offseason and could offer Devonte’ Graham’s expiring $12.7 million contract to help match salary in a trade.

That said, though Paul’s age puts him on a different timeline than the Spurs, his status as a league ambassador lends itself to the likelihood he would take mentoring Victor Wembanyama seriously. Wembanyama is poised to be the face of the league when James retires and that’s more than just a superlative for some. People like Paul, even Wembanyama, may see it as a responsibility or rare opportunity.

It could also be a chance for Paul to show what he has left in the tank. If he does want another rich contract, then he’d need the exposure and reps. He could get both on the point guard-needy Spurs. Even today, there are few players more suited to deliver the ball to Wembanyama than the ‘Point God.’


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