After the Phoenix Suns fell short of winning an NBA title, it moves Chris Paul closer to a crucial contract decision. Paul holds complete control of dictating the next chapter of his NBA career. It’s quickly led the Los Angeles Lakers to enter the picture as a potential offseason landing spot.
Chris Paul and the Suns fall short in the NBA Finals against the Bucks
In Paul‘s first season with the Suns, he transformed the franchise into a championship contender.
The 36-year-old performance and leadership spearheaded Phoenix’s impressive campaign. The Suns earned its first playoffs berth in a decade after securing the Western Conference’s second overall playoff seed.
Paul put forth an MVP-caliber season behind averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 assists on 49.9% shooting from the floor and 39.5% from 3-point range. The 11-time All-Star followed it up by helping guide Phoenix to its first NBA Finals berth in 28 years.
However, the Suns fell flat against the Milwaukee Bucks despite grabbing a 2-0 series lead. Phoenix had no answer defensively to slow down two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As Paul heads into the offseason, an NBA title contender is making its interest in him known.
Lakers are already laying the groundwork to land Chris Paul
As Paul heads into the offseason, barrelling closer to his contract decision, possible landing spots continue to emerge.
It’s quickly shifted the conversation to the Lakers becoming a potential destination through the strong connection between the star point guard and James. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Los Angeles is looking to land a veteran point guard, and the 11-time All-Star is on the list of offseason targets.
“According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list,” Spears wrote.
Although the Lakers will make a strong push, the team is limited financially on the deal it can offer. Spears laid out Los Angeles prefers to do a sign-and-trade because the most the team can present outside that route is a $9.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception.
The front office may work to convince Dennis Schroder to agree to a sign-and-trade with Phoenix to help offset the financial burden of Paul’s next deal. The team will likely involve Kyle Kuzma in a trade talk. Kuzma is set to begin the first year of his three-year, $39 million contract that will pay him $13 million in salary next season.
It remains an unlikely scenario, but Los Angeles appears determined to explore all its options to improve the roster.
Los Angeles will have other offseason backcourt options
As much as the Lakers prefer to land a Hall of Fame talent such as Paul, it’s a route that needs plenty to play out in the franchise’s favor.
Meanwhile, the early offseason rumors have linked the Lakers to Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball, Collin Sexton, and Spencer Dinwiddie. Keep in mind, each of these scenarios will likely require a sign-and-trade.
The front office could also elect to re-sign Schroder. However, his reported asking price between $100 million to $120 million may be too high for the team’s liking.
The Lakers are also rumored to hold a significant interest in acquiring former league MVP Russell Westbrook through a sign-and-trade scenario. Spears reported the Lakers have already spoken to the Washington Wizards about a potential deal that involves Schroder, Talen Horton Tucker, and Kuzma.
Much can change over the next few weeks before free agency begins, but it’s clear the Lakers want to revamp the roster around its star power to return to NBA title contention.
Contract courtesy of Spotrac.