NBA Rumors: ESPN Analyst Explains Why Chris Paul Won’t Be Joining LeBron James & LA Lakers Next Season

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers escorts Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets after a fight involving Rajon Rondo #9 and Brandon Ingram #14 during a 124-115 Rockets win at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Harry How / Getty Images

When rumors spread that Chris Paul wants to play in Los Angeles or New York if he leaves the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers immediately became the top favorite trade destination for him this offseason. Despite winning the 2020 NBA championship title, the Lakers still have plenty of things that they need to improve on their roster. By successfully acquiring CP3, they would be able to address their need for another playmaker and shot creator to lessen the burden on LeBron James’ shoulders on the offensive end of the floor.

Though taking his talent to the Purple and Gold would allow him to team up with his close pal LeBron and give him a realistic chance of winning his first championship ring, there is speculation that Paul isn’t interested in joining the Lakers. In a recent appearance on ESPN’s First Take, via Youtube, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN explained why CP3 doesn’t want to go to the Lakers this offseason.

“CP3 does not want to go to the [Los Angeles] Lakers. The reasons he doesn’t want to go to the Lakers is because they’re already established, they’re already accomplished, and there’s really nothing to do for them. They would only be doing something for him, and that is ring-chasing, and that’s not the kind of ring-chasing that he wants to be a part of in terms of stacking the deck. He’d rather go some place where he could be himself and be the leader that he is,” Smith said, as transcribed by James Kingsley of Lakers Daily.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of a game at Staples Center on November 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
  Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

As of now, Paul is yet to confirm or deny Smith’s statement but even if it’s true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that rumors of his desire to play in Los Angeles in the 2020-21 NBA season are false. The Lakers aren’t the only Hollywood team that is expected to pursue CP3 this fall.. Since the 2020 offseason started, rumors are circulating that Kawhi Leonard is urging the L.A. Clippers to target a starting-caliber point guard on the market.

They may currently have Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams on their roster, but none of those veterans are traditional point guards. The arrival of Paul would not only solve their major backcourt problem, it would also enable them to form their own “Big Three” with Leonard and Paul George next year. Unlike the Lakers, Smith believes that the Clippers would be an “ideal fit” for CP3 due to his relationship with Coach Tyronn Lue and team owner Steve Ballmer.

Also, it’s worth noting that, before he was traded to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2017, Paul played for the Clippers for six consecutive seasons. Returning to Los Angeles to help them capture their first Larry O’Brien Trophy would undeniably help Paul improve his legacy and solidify his status as one of the best point guards in league history.