The latest shockwave to go through the NBA came on Wednesday afternoon when a host of reports, first from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, indicated that Chris Paul’s time in Phoenix was done. Additional reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that, while the Suns could waive Paul and his partially-guaranteed contract, the plan is to potentially find a different solution.
The connections between Paul and the Lakers are long and obvious. The vetoed trade will always haunt fans and be the main link between the two parties. Present day, his Banana Boat brother LeBron James is on the roster and makes that association even stronger.
While there have been no reported links yet between the Lakers and Paul as we write, it feels like a matter of when, not if. If CP3 wants to compete for a contender, as Haynes’ tweet suggests, the Lakers at least check that box. Add in the LeBron connection and it’s going to be rumored at the very least.
But how realistic is an acquisition of Paul? If the Suns are looking to make a trade, then not all that realistic for the Lakers. The Lakers could offer Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba, two players that could also provide cap relief for the Suns, but is that something they’re in search of?
Theoretically, they could simply serve as role players for a Phoenix side that had very few of them in the playoffs. But neither Beasley nor Bamba were factors in the Lakers run to the Western Conference Finals, either.
Outside of that trade package, the only other trade route would involve D’Angelo Russell. To be fair, Russell is friends with Devin Booker, but the last time D’Lo teamed with a friend in Karl-Anthony Towns, it didn’t exactly end well.
If Paul is waived either by the Suns or some other team, the possibility of him joining the Lakers increases. Depending on how things play out this summer, the Lakers will have anything from the full mid-level exception to the taxpayer mid-level or the bi-annual exception.
The question then is how much Paul is willing to sacrifice to play for the Lakers. Similarly, how much are the Lakers willing to spend on Paul, who looked...limited in what he can still do during the Suns’ postseason run.
But if LeBron wants to play off the ball more, Paul is exactly the type of guy the Lakers would be looking for. It would make a decision on D’Angelo Russell more interesting if they bring in Paul, but the team already is reportedly more interested in signing and trading him than anything else.
Again, though, considering how much Paul struggled in the postseason, is it a move worth making and expending assets for? Does he raise the ceiling of the team in the playoffs?
It’s another cog in the wheel that has many moving parts already for the Lakers offseason and will make for even more interesting decisions.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.