As the Phoenix Suns digest falling short in the 2021 NBA Finals, the focus shifts toward Chris Paul’s future. His uncertain contract situation has created rumblings concerning the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Paul may have just crushed any chance he joins the Lakers this summer.
Lakers hold strong interest in acquiring Chris Paul
Shortly after the Phoenix Suns fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals, the rumor mill quickly circled Paul’s future.
The star guard holds a $44.2 million player option for the 2021-22 season that he’s expected to decline. Although it’s likely Paul re-signs with the Suns, the Lakers have stuck quite firm as a potential landing spot.
The connection to Los Angeles is fueled through his strong friendship with LeBron James that extends well beyond any basketball court. The Lakers also hold the appeal of playing alongside James and Anthony Davis.
Paul hasn’t sparked any speculation concerning a desire to join the Lakers, but the team’s need to upgrade the backcourt pushes him into the conversation. A recent report from Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated also stated the 11-time All-Star is on the list of offseason targets.
The Lakers’ pathway to landing Paul includes plenty of salary-cap gymnastics, suggesting a sign-and-trade as the only realistic route. However, it will primarily depend on the star point guard voicing an unwavering desire to play for Los Angeles.
As Paul nears closer to his imminent contract decision on August 1, he may have dropped a telling hint that crushes any hope for Lakers fans to see him in a purple and gold uniform next season.
Chris Paul may have crushed any chance he joins the Lakers
Paul‘s first season with the Suns went well beyond expectations as he helped guide the franchise to its first NBA Finals appearance in 28 years.
The disappointing close to the season shifts the attention toward his upcoming contract decision. Paul hasn’t indicated much regarding the situation, but he’s hinted at wanting to continue playing in Phoenix. He dropped another telling clue in his end-of-season social media post on Wednesday while thanking Suns fans.
“Thank you to Phoenix and all the fans on a great season!! Back to work,” Paul wrote. “#CantGiveUpNow”
Paul didn’t outright air his desire to return to Phoenix, but it gives off the tone that he’s leaning toward staying. During the playoffs, a report indicated the star guard is leaning toward ink a three-year deal with the Suns potentially worth around $100 million.
The separating factor for Phoenix may be the ability to offer Paul a contract that can pay him more than $30 million a year. Meanwhile, the Lakers can only offer a $9.5 million mid-level expectation salary without a sign-and-trade. It’s also going off the premise that the Suns will take a trade package centered on receiving Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Talen Horton-Tucker.
Unless things drastically change, the chances of Paul landing with the Lakers are a pipe dream at best.
Los Angeles will focus on other backcourt options
Although the Lakers would love to acquire Paul, the team will quickly shift toward other trade market and free agency options.
Los Angeles has been linked to Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Buddy Hield, Spencer Dinwiddie, Landry Shamet, Lonzo Ball, and Collin Sexton. All that makes it increasingly evident the franchise is eyeing adding a stable backcourt option that can take some of the offensive workload from LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The front office is clearly eyeing returning to title contention next season, setting the table for a busy summer ahead.
Contract courtesy of Spotrac.