A shameless title for this story? I concede. It's worded in such a way that might lead the audience to believe that Chris Paul may end up wearing purple and gold. He won't. Chris Paul has a snowball's chance in South Beach of ending up in Los Angeles.
So, what's the big deal? Everyone's writing rosterbation-esque fantasy articles these days. I'm simply following the crowd. I'm going with the flow. "Follow the leader" does, in fact, seem to be the flavor of the month. It's "en vogue".
Lack of leadership might seem to be a natural segue to roasting LeBron James. It's not. I will mention briefly however, that this process was initiated by James, and facilitated by Dan Gilbert. He held a nation captive during his whirlwind free agency tour. It was a spectacle. He educated. Others listened.
One such pupil was paying attention. A long-time friend of the "King," Chris Paul recognized the precedent set by James could change the way the league operates. The Players now "wear the pants." As details followed of how team owners pandered to James' every will (in an attempt to woo the star), CP3 took notes. He too wants to follow the leader. He wants to cash in on this power play. He wants out of New Orleans. Now.
Of the desired destinations mentioned by Paul during his trade demand, the Lake-Show was near the top. Apparently, he would be willing to play for the two-time defending world champions.
You don't say.
Unfortunately for Paul and Laker Nation, you just don't get something for nothing. Long gone are the days when you could purchase... say... Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota, plus North and South Dakota for 15 million U.S. dollars. The Los Angeles Lakers would need to part with something substantial to acquire such a talent. Too much.
A quick scan at the Lakers' assets narrows the search.
Kobe is more untouchable than John Dillinger and Pau Gasol is more precious than Spanish Bullion to owner Jerry Buss. A bit further down the depth chart, the only other commodities of value are Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, and Andrew Bynum.
Odom is more of a deal "swinger" than a deal centerpiece, and Ron Ron is too volatile to shop. That leaves "Drew."
I could see the Hornets coveting Bynum, but would this swap intrigue LA?
Shipping Bynum out for Paul would mean a couple of things. First, it would mean a fundamental change in the way the Lakers run. Gasol would slide over to an unnatural, hybrid-center position in the absence of Bynum. This would negate a major advantage as Bynum is a natural, back-to-the-basket, seven-footer, with a traditional array of low post moves. Bynum and Gasol is fearsome, 14-foot combo down low. Gasol and Odom would be pedestrian.
The Lakers showed time and time again, that "Big-Ball" wins games. During stretches when Bynum, Gasol, and Artest made up the frontcourt, Phil Jackson illustrated why tall guys have traditionally won NBA championships. Don't be fooled by Kobe's MVP-like performances, the bigs were the difference in 2009-10.
Secondly, while teams around the league are trying to get bigger, a shift to Paul (for Bynum) would be like sending every general manager around the league, a golden wrapped invitation to visit Phil Jackson's Chocolate Factory. Why give away your secrets?
Why allow others into your wheel-house?
The truth is, that Andrew Bynum is a bit of injury-good-luck away from being the most polished true center in the game today. The Lakers would be penny-wise, and pound-foolish, to bail on that potential now.
Additionally, although Chris Paul is an MVP-caliber point guard, his presence could disrupt the Lakers' established rhythm. It's true that his addition would immediately thrust the Lakers into consideration as one of the all-time great backcourts in NBA history, but is that enough to warrant jettisoning Bynum and moving to small-ball?
The triangle offense, at first glance, appears to conflict with Paul's skill set due to the contrasts in tempo. For this reason, it's hard to imagine that the benefits of a scheme-limited Paul, would outweigh the advantages of an already dominant, Bynum-lead frontcourt.
The Lakers have won five titles without the need for an open-court, transition-oriented point guard. It simply isn't required of a point guard in Jackson's sets. In fact, NBA history shows that many teams have won championships without the marquee floor general, but very few in recent history have won without the big-man. If you haven't ever "Googled it," do yourself a favor and research the intersects. Twenty-seven of the last 30 NBA champions have all had "big" presences in the paint. This is more than a trend. It's nearly a law.
Which brings us back to my original topic.
Why would Lakers brass need to keep up with the Joneses. They are the Joneses. There is no need to imitate "Big-Three" plans when you're already sitting on top of the world. Changing directions now, while the Lakers are riding a proven formula, would be the equivalent of the Pittsburgh Steelers switching to a zone blocking scheme. It doesn't work. Ever.
The reality is, that Dr. Jerry Buss doesn't follow anyone. This is Hollywood, and the Lakers direct their own script.
There will be no snowball fights on South Beach. Chris Paul will not be a Laker.
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