It’s been almost four years since Chris Paul played his last game for the Clippers, but apparently the 35-year-old All-Star hasn’t lost any love for the city of Los Angeles, or at least a big city like Los Angeles.
According to Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School, Paul wants to play in a big market again next season, and he has two cities circled at the top of his list (emphasis mine):
Let me preface this by saying I’m not reporting a Chris Paul deal is any closer to happening than it was two weeks or two months ago, nor am I saying that Leon Rose is any more inclined to pay OKC’s asking price than he ever was before, but…
I’ve been told by a league source that Chris Paul prefers his next basketball home to be either in LA or NY (Los Angeles is where he resides full time) and that has created some modicum of leverage in the ongoing negotiations between the sides. I’m also told that there is a deal on the table that is comfortable from Sam Presti’s perspective, and the ball is in Leon Rose’s court.
It should go without saying that this situation is fluid, and things can (and probably will) change drastically, but if you think the possibility of Paul to the Knicks is dead, think again.
That’s obviously good news for fans of the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks and Nets, but it should be noted that only a few of the aforementioned teams can put together a package for Paul, and the Lakers aren’t one of them — at least not realistically, despite what multiple NBA executives think.
Paul will make $41 million next season, meaning the Lakers would have to send out just over $33 million for a trade to be legal. With the salary the Lakers have on their books outside of LeBron James next season (or lack thereof), that would involve them sending out seven players: Danny Green, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee, Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso.
The Lakers could substitute the No. 28 pick in for Caruso a package for Paul to try and preserve some of their depth, but there are a handful of issues with that package:
- Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee have player options, so there’s no guarantee that the Lakers will have their salaries to send out.
- The Lakers can’t outright trade their first-round pick until 2027, so they would have to trade their pick as a player, which they wouldn’t be able to do until 30 days after the player signed his contract. If the season starts on Dec. 22 like the NBA wants it to, it would be nearly impossible for the Paul trade to be completed by opening night, which would make filling out rosters an even tougher task.
So, the Lakers can either hope that the culmination of Green, Bradley, McGee, Kuzma, Horton-Tucker and Caruso is enough for the Thunder, or try to convince another team to engage in a sign-and-trade scenario with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as the main piece. Both scenarios seem unlikely. By definition, unlikely doesn’t mean impossible, but it might as well in this case.
In other words, good luck in New York, CP3!