NBA Trade Rumors: Chris Paul to Lakers Is a Memphis Sequel, Circa 2010

Pat MixonSenior Analyst IJuly 22, 2010

There’s a bold move out there for the Los Angles Lakers and don’t be surprised if Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss and his general manager, Mitch Kupchak, pull the trigger.

Chris Paul will be traded from the New Orleans Hornets.

Just this past weekend, as reported by Mark Medina of the L.A. Times blog, Paul said at the wedding of Carmelo Anthony that he wanted out of New Orleans. Same thing that Ken Berger of reported as well. It's all out of the bag.

Paul won't play another game in New Orleans, and will demand a trade.

The only question is, where?

While the rest of the league talks of New York, Miami, or even Orlando for Paul, the Lakers have a sequel to perform.

This is all about the Memphis Grizzles’ Playbook, Part II. New Orleans is a repeat of Memphis, circa 2010. 

The Hornets are a small market, cash strapped team with an owner, George Shinn, who comes close to be mentioned in the same breath as Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. I won’t mention what is said in that breath. The Hornets are ripe for the picking, and the Lakers are ready to pounce.

Like the Pau Gasol steal of 2008, it all comes down to money and players, and the Lakers have both.

The deal to structure is actually easy. The only key is not to sacrifice Andrew Bynum.

That's because Bynum is the future for the Lakers. To part with him without another player of equal talent and height, would be a mistake. But the Lakers didn’t make that one in the past and won’t again here. They’ll get Paul without losing Bynum.

The trade rumor breaks down like this:

Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic, and their contracts for Chris Paul. While the loss of Odom would hurt, it is well worth the move to get the superstar Paul. If the ledger doesn't balance with just these Lakers players, they can add in newly acquired backup point guard Steve Blake to make the cap work.

Chris Paul is slated to make $14,940,153 in 2011. On the Lakers’ side, Odom will earn $8,200,000 and Sasha gets $5,475,113. Right there, between just Odom and Sasha, it almost equals Paul’s salary. Throw in another Laker player with a small contract (see below) and the trade balances out perfectly.

Sasha’s contract is the most attractive, since next year is the last one on it (his “cap hold” counts right now for $10 mil which will also help balance out Paul’s cap hold).

Odom’s goes through 2012 and another non-guaranteed year in 2013. Both are nice contracts for the Hornets to work their cap.

Like the Gasol deal, the Hornets want some future upside in the deal at little cap cost.

Here again, Kupchak’s draft savvy will already pay dividends. Lakers rookie Devin Ebanks has already silenced critics and made most GMs look foolish for letting him drop to the second round.

The Lakers snatched the small forward when he dropped far in this year’s draft and Ebanks has already displayed his talent in summer league. So he’s the upside to package in the Paul trade, reminiscent of the Lakers adding Marc Gasol to the deal for his brother in 2008.

So the numbers make sense, but does Paul?

Absolutely. He’s a talented, top-tier, All-Star player, arguably the best point guard in the league. 

While the Lakers don’t use a traditional point guard in their triangle offense, needless to say, Paul would be a major contributor.

He would initiate the offense and learn the triangle from current starter Derek Fisher. And, quickly, if not from the get go, Paul would start. He can both score and defend and can be counted on to be a leader. 

With Steve Blake now in the mix at the point, Paul could even play some two spot in a smaller lineup where Kobe slides to small forward. Paul is that great of scorer, able to create his own shot beside just dish.

But the best part of the trade is Paul’s age. He is only 25. 

Let Paul blend in with Kobe, Gasol & Co. for a few more championships these next few years. Then let Paul team with Andrew Bynum into the next Lakers dynasty after Kobe retires.

That is a scary thought, but a reality if this trade happens.

And, it just might. While everyone else is looking at Carmelo Anthony or how to compete with the “super team” in Miami, everyone is forgetting the gold right in front of them.

But the Purple & Gold won’t. Laker Chris Paul has a ring to it. Don’t you think? Many rings, actually.