Chris Paul is coming off a fantastic season. When the trade between OKC and Houston Rockets took place, the former, led by Chris Paul, were given significantly low odds to make the NBA playoffs. But they could rally and finish the season by clinching the fifth seed in the West, just one behind the Rockets.
But a disappointing first-round playoff exit means that Chris Paul will look to his future in the off-season. Reports are emerging that CP3 is an option for the Los Angeles Lakers, especially with the potential departure of Rajon Rondo and KCP this off-season. Paul would be the coveted third superstar that the Lakers are looking for, and he will make them title favorites.
But the move is not a good idea, for a litany of reasons.
Chris Paul’s Contract
Chris Paul is currently on a $38.5 million contract with OKC. Before the league agreed to salary reductions due to COVID-19, he was tied for the second-highest salary in the NBA. His high wage makes him both attainable and unattainable for the Lakers.
With his salary, the Thunder will be looking to offload him. But for the Lakers to get Paul, they will reportedly have to trade about $30 Million in salaries to OKC. That would mean the Lakers cleaning out much of their roster, including Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma.
The trade-off seems extremely high, especially given that Paul is also 35 years old, and like LeBron James, is not someone who will ensure future brilliance. The Lakers organization must decide whether they want to win now, or win later. Given the shortening window on James’ career peak, the Lakers will choose the former.
Primary Ball Handler
Chris Paul is the primary ball-handler on whichever team he is on. He runs the offense from the point position and also creates opportunities for himself. During his time in the league, Paul has proven to be one of the best point-guard playmakers. But should CP3 move to the Lakers, he won’t be able to be the primary ball-handler. That privilege goes to LeBron James.
Now, one can argue that great friends like James and Paul will change their playing style to suit the other- which is fair. Both James and Paul work best when they have the ball in their hands. While one would assume that Paul would reduce the burden of creating for ‘The King’, the truth is that James has now made playmaking his primary strength. And the arrival of Chris Paul would take that away from James.
CP3 with another All-Star has never worked
Paul has had his share of All-Star teammates. Blake Griffin and James Harden are prime examples. Yet the combination of Chris Paul and a second superstar has never worked. Paul’s relationship with both those stars deteriorated and led to his departure from the Clippers and the Rockets. Paul is at his finest when he is the best player on the team. His stints with New Orleans and Oklahoma City have illustrated just that.
Combining Paul with not one, but two superstars could lead to disaster. It will inevitably lead to ego clashes and arguments that the Lakers do not welcome. The balance between James and Anthony Davis has been a breath of fresh air. Adding Paul to the dynamic could jeopardize that chemistry.
Better Point Guards Available
At the end of the day, this move is difficult to pull off, but feasible. The temptation for Paul to return to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers years after his first move was vetoed by the league is significant. But there are better options for both parties. The Lakers would be better suited getting a younger point guard who can jell well with James and AD. ON his side, Paul could move to a floundering organization and build them back up as the primary superstar. This move could spell disaster for the Lakers and Chris Paul.
Should the Lakers trade for Chris Paul? Would they automatically become title favorites?