At this point, it’s far from certain whether the Oklahoma City Thunder will hold on to nine-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul after acquiring him from the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook. Aside from the Miami Heat, who have been linked to Paul most frequently since the news of his trade first broke, the Los Angeles Lakers have occasionally been brought up as a potential landing spot should the Thunder choose to trade him. But what are the chances that Paul would arrive in Los Angeles and give the team a third All-NBA mainstay alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis?
On Monday, Sporting News‘ Jordan Greer analyzed the above possibility, starting out by noting that the only way the Lakers could acquire Paul is if the Thunder buy out his lucrative contract, which will pay him $124 million over the next three seasons. He added that the Lakers could, in theory, sign Paul to a veteran’s minimum deal if the 34-year-old point guard come to terms on a buyout with the Thunder, unlikely as that may seem due to Paul’s contract status.
Even if Chris Paul agrees to sign with the Lakers, the team may have to deal with a number of other issues, mainly those involving some of the players who recently signed or re-signed with the team. As noted by Greer, Paul has had a decade-long rivalry with Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo, one which was highlighted last season when both players had a fistfight on the Staples Center floor. He also pointed out that new Lakers signing DeMarcus Cousins “doesn’t have a great history” with Paul, as detailed last year by SBNation.
“Sure, Paul’s relationship with James could help ease the transition, but it’s not like the Lakers need more drama right now,” Sporting News‘ Greer added.
Aside from the above factors, Greer posited that it’s unlikely Paul will accept playing a reduced role if he joins the Los Angeles Lakers, given how he is one of the NBA’s “most intense” players. The veteran guard’s salary concerns were also mentioned a second time — Greer wrote that it might not look good for Paul if he accepts a buyout and settle for lower pay, as he currently serves as National Basketball Players Association president.
Regardless whether he ends up on the Lakers or any other team following his blockbuster trade to the Thunder, Paul will still be entering the 2019-20 NBA season as one of the league’s better point guards. In 58 games for the Rockers, he averaged 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 8.2 assists while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc for the Houston Rockets, per his Basketball-Reference page.