A new era in Lakerdom is about to begin. The trade for Pau Gasol almost four years ago sent the franchise back into the NBA stratosphere. Today, it appears, Pau is leaving town along with Lamar Odom, who himself arrived in Los Angeles as part of a franchise-shaking trade. In return for these two great Lakers, whom we'll always love and think of as family, the team is acquiring Chris Paul. He needs no introduction. We all watched him torment the Lake Show in the first round of last year's playoffs. He's one of the best point guards of all time and a top-five player who's still only 26 years old. Oh, honey.
My off-the-cuff thoughts about what it all means....
- For years we've been begging the front office to upgrade the point-guard position, make the team younger, add quickness on the perimeter, find someone besides Kobe Bryant who can create off the dribble and improve the team's three-point shooting. Check, check, check, check and check. Chris Paul does all that.
- The post-Kobe future is coming into view. In CP3 and Andrew Bynum the organization has a point guard/center combination with several peak years ahead of them. For once it's possible to imagine the team contending for a title in 2015.
- The Laker front court is nearly deserted. Bynum and Derrick Caracter are the only two bigs under contract, and Bynum is suspended for the first five games of the season. Mitch Kupchak has a lot of work to do filling these gaps. (According to Mike Bresnahan of the LAT, Emeka Okafor might be heading to the Lakers as part of the CP3 trade. According to Larry Coon, if it's just CP3 then the Lakers pick up two trade exceptions, one for $8.9 million.)
- Does this make a Dwight Howard deal more or less likely? I'm not sure. I've always thought Bynum plus Odom was the minimum needed to get Dwight from Orlando, and now one of those trade chips has been spent. On the other hand, we know Dwight wants to play with CP3 so this might lead him to demand a trade to the Lakers specifically. If Bynum-for-Howard actually happens I will ruin my good pants.
- Derek Fisher is no longer the Lakers' starting point guard. Is he even second string at this point? Steve Blake is still around and the team drafted Darius Morris last June. Someone's gotta go. It's hard to imagine the Lakers straight-up dumping Fish given his personal relationship with Kobe, and it would be a shame not to give Morris a close look. Blake, in other words, is looking like amnesty.
- Mike Brown's first major test as Lakers coach will be figuring out how to mesh Kobe with CP3. Both guys are accustomed to controlling possessions. Kobe isn't used to functioning as a roll man or spot-up shooter. When it works it'll be magnificent, but we'll have to give it time. This is almost precisely the problem Miami had last year in trying to integrate LeBron James with Dwyane Wade.
- The Lakers' perimeter defense could be sick. Paul, Kobe and Metta World Peace have combined for 18 appearances on the NBA's All-Defensive team. Though Kobe and M Dubs aren't the defenders they once were, they can still bring it in key moments, and with Drew behind them guarding the paint this team has a potential to be an absolute monster on D.
- Also sick? Chris Paul throwing alley-oops to Bynum. I think we will enjoy this very much.
- Paul does come with a couple red flags. One is his injury history. He's had knee problems in the past and has to be considered a microfracture risk. The other is that until his playoff breakout against the Lakers, last season wasn't a classic CP3 campaign. He was very, very good instead of dominant. Was it a function of motivation and wanting to get out of New Orleans, or was it a warning that he's no longer capable of hitting his 2007-09 MVP caliber peak? We'll find out.
- I don't think any of us realizes how much we'll miss Pau and Lamar. They've been brilliant in the purple and gold and were cornerstones of back-to-back title teams. They both played critical roles in leading us out of the post-Shaq darkness. They've been exemplary off the court and they both have plenty of great ball left in them. However the rest of their careers play out, I will always think of them as Lakers.
You only give up guys like that if you get back someone truly special. Say hello to CP3.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.