Chris Paul and LeBron James have been close friends since before they reached the NBA, but they’ve never had a chance to play on the same team outside of All-Star and Olympic settings. But now, with both of them nearing the ends of their legendary careers, their chances of teaming up appear stronger than ever. Paul’s contract is only partially guaranteed, and reports have indicated that the Suns are trying to trade it, and should they fail, could simply waive him for the financial savings. If Paul is indeed waived, the Lakers are interested in signing him, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.
In this scenario, the Lakers would be signing Paul, who is guaranteed $15.8 million if he is waived, for the veteran’s minimum. This would give the Lakers quite a bit of extra flexibility to reload the rest of the roster, and one name that could still be back even if Paul signs is veteran point guard D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers acquired Russell at the deadline and he is set to become a free agent this offseason, but his market appears limited after a weak postseason run that ended with a disastrous series against the Denver Nuggets.
Paul would reportedly be favored to start even if the Lakers retained Russell, but the two could form a beneficial partnership that allows the older Paul to play limited minutes in the regular season and take some nights off. Paul would then scale up in the postseason, when Russell struggles.
While Paul has slipped significantly due to age, he is still one of the NBA’s best late-game shot-creators and mid-range scorers. He would take a fair bit of pressure of James in crunch time, but would not command so many possessions that he would limit the ball-handling duties of ascending shooting guard Austin Reaves, who thrived after Russell Westbrook was traded at the deadline.
For now, the Lakers are dependent on the Suns if they hope to chase Paul. They are Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards, and even if they fail, they could use Paul’s salary for another trade. If the Lakers are going to get Paul, they’ll need to hope that either the Suns waive him themselves or trade him to a team that will. Paul, who has never won a championship, reportedly hopes to join a contender if he is not back in Phoenix, and partnering up with a longtime friend in a city he used to play in sounds like a perfect fit on paper.to acquire