LeBron James, Lakers keep an eye on Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook: Report

LeBron James, Lakers keep an eye on Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook: Report

As the dust has not yet settled on his Phoenix Suns’ NBA Finals loss, there has been a report that Chris Paul may be on his way elsewhere.

According to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in picking Paul from their Western Conference rivals this offseason. They are also considering a pursuit of former league MVP and Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook.

Per spear:

According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for a veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been discussions that Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook is a potential candidate to move home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, striker Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.

The Lakers backcourt was exposed last season

That the Lakers are looking for an upgrade at that point should come as no surprise. They are fresh from a playoff loss in the first round at the hands of Paul’s Suns. It should be noted that they were dealing with an injured Anthony Davis (groin) and a reduced James (ankle) during this loss. But injuries to the Lakers’ pair of superstars shed a strong light on the lack of star power elsewhere on the list.

Would Chris Paul frolic Phoenix to take his final shots at an NBA title alongside LeBron James? (Mark J. Rebilas / Reuters)

Starting point guard Dennis Schroder was a popular scapegoat for the Lakers’ games in 2020-21, with Magic Johnson after the season declaring “I don’t think he’s a Laker.” The five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and former president of basketball operations was quick to jump on the Paul carriage Tuesday as soon as his Suns were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA Championship.

The reported interest in Paul from the Lakers and the aforementioned friend James is almost palpable. This would not be the first time the NBA’s glamor franchise has coveted the future Hall of Famer. Do not expect Commissioner Adam Silver to nixer any potential deal this time.

Would Paul take the pay cut, ease a deal with the Lakers?

This dream scenario for James and the Lakers would apparently depend almost entirely on Paul. The 36-year-old 11-time All-Star has a player opportunity with the Suns next season worth more than $ 44 million. That’s a big number. He could secure more guaranteed money by opting out and signing a long-term deal worth more than $ 100 million. Would he like to give it another run with the Suns, with all reports pointing to a harmonious relationship with other stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton and head coach Monty Williams?

Or does he prefer to take his final shots at an NBA championship with a core that has already won one along with old friend James? If he follows this route, it will likely come with a drastic wage cut. Per Spears is the best deal the Lakers could offer Paul as a free agent, a $ 9.5 million mid-level taxpayer exception – much less than $ 44 million, and an additional problem for Paul in his role as NBPA president.

Would Suns cooperate?

Spears reports that Paul’s most likely route from Phoenix to Los Angeles would involve a sign-and-trade that would allow the Lakers to pay him more. That would involve collaboration from a Suns team with a young core that just dropped two wins under an NBA title.

The Lakers (+450) and Suns (+1400) both opened among the BetMGM betting favorites to win next season’s NBA Championship. Would the Suns help the Lakers upgrade to avoid seeing Paul go into free agency with nothing left? Would Paul play hardball to force the Suns’ hand?

It all adds fascinating scenarios and one of the most watched stories of the offseason. And that’s before we address the Lakers’ potential pursuit of Westbrook.

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