New Orleans Hornets' star point guard Chris Paul will meet with his front office to discuss his future with the team and voice his desire to be traded. One of the teams atop his list of places he would like to go is the Lakers. And why not?
The Lakers are the two-time defending NBA champions, they have the game's best player, and they have all the pieces to make a title run even without Paul.
Paul, however, would be a enormous addition to a team that already appears to need little help defending its title. There is no doubt Paul could fit on the roster (though it may take financial footwork), but how does the roster shape up should the point guard head west?
The acquisition of Paul would bump Fisher to the bench. Paul would certainly be a younger, more prolific upgrade over Fisher, who could slide to the end of the bench and become more of a veteran voice and presence. The Lakers already rely on Fisher for somewhat minimal contributions. Paul's arrival would make him nearly null.
The Lakers signed Blake to serve as Fisher's backup. Bringing Paul would likely not change his role too much. The Lakers used their mid-level exception very wisely with addition of Steve Blake. The veteran point guard not only fills a need on the depth chart, but he is also a smart ball handler, strong defender, and quality perimeter shooter.
The Lakers could be more apt to use Fisher as the backup should they sign Paul. Either way, Fisher and Blake would battle for playing time.
Not much changes for Kobe Bryant with the addition of Paul, except he will get an All-Pro point guard who can handle the ball and run the offense through his hands. That would take further pressure off Kobe to create offense and would allow him to focus more on scoring. That would be a win for the Lakers.
Not much is likely to change for Vujacic. He is the only listed shooting guard on the roster behind Kobe Bryant, and that wouldn't change with Paul on the roster. Vujacic would still spell Kobe and receive his eight-to-12 minutes per game. We usually see Vujacic when the starters are off the floor, so chances are he'd receive minimal time on the court with Paul.
Like Vujacic, Walton is only seen at the end of halves and games. Walton has seen his minutes per game decrease in recent seasons as the Lakers continue to bolster their roster. If the Lakers add Paul to the roster, we'd likely see even less of Walton this upcoming season, especially since the team has already signed Matt Barnes.
Artest's productivity significantly decreased in his first season with the Lakers. He went from 17-20 points per game to 11 points per game last season. That's not surprising because Artest is being relied upon more for his defense and rebounding in the triangle offense. That likely would not change even with Paul's arrival, but it certainly couldn't hurt to have a point guard so skilled at spreading the ball around.
The Lakers continue to work with the improving Bynum, but the team is waiting for his true breakout season. That could happen sooner if Paul joins the Lakers. Paul's ability to spread the floor and squeeze passes through traffic would benefit Bynum. He averaged 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season with Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Jordan Farmar. No reason to think he couldn't do more with Paul.
Gasol, like Bynum, should greatly benefit from Paul, whose abilities as a passer should only improve with more and better targets to find. That includes Gasol, who comes off arguably the best season of his career. The biggest question is how Paul would fit with Gasol in the triangle offense.
Odom is the Lakers' valuable sixth man who sees time as a starter and is relied on to score like a starter. Being on the court with Paul should improve his chances of doing both with more consistency and greater productivity. Odom comes off the lowest seasonal scoring average of his career. Getting the chance to play with Paul should give him a bump.
The Lakers recently signed the 37-year-old Ratliff as bench insurance to support Gasol and Bynum. Ratliff played just 16.5 minutes per game last season in Charlotte, where he averaged 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He would likely be minimally impacted by Paul because his playing time could very well decrease on the more loaded Lakers' roster.
The Lakers added yet another piece last night when they signed swingman Matt Barnes to a two-year, $3.6 million contract. Barnes gives the Lakers added scoring and athleticism off the bench and likely spells the end of Shannon Brown in Los Angeles.
Barnes averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds with the Magic last season, splitting time as a bench player and as a starter. He will look to have similar production with the Lakers.
And then there is how Paul would fit into Phil Jackson's triangle offense. Kobe has been the crux of the triangle offense, working with Gasol and Bynum. That doesn't leave much room for an All-Star point guard used to having the ball in his hand a high percentage of each possession.
That's not to say the Lakers couldn't work with Paul, because if anyone is going to fit one of the league's best point guards into a system, it's Phil Jackson.
It would not be an ideal fit, and it may not even work smoothly at first, but Paul would be a positive addition to the already formidable Lakers, regardless of how he transitions into the triangle offense.