Chris Paul Rumors: Lakers Eyeing Sign-and-Trade for Star After Suns' NBA Finals Run

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 21, 2021

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Chris Paul's future is uncertain, as the Phoenix Suns point guard has a massive $44.2 million player option for the 2021-22 season. 

If he goes the free agency or sign-and-trade route, keep an eye on the Los Angeles Lakers. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported Wednesday that, "According to sources, LeBron James and the Lakers have been on the hunt for veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list."

Spears added that "For Paul to join forces with James for the first time in their careers, it would likely take a sign-and-trade with the Suns," though he noted that if the veteran point guard does opt out, he'll likely sign a longer deal in Phoenix.

Spears wrote that the Lakers also reportedly were considering Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook as a "potential candidate" for a complicated sign-and-trade that would send point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker the other way. 

Such a deal would likely be the framework to get Paul to Los Angeles, too, though Schroder—who is set to become an unrestricted free agent—and impending restricted free agent Horton-Tucker would have to agree to join either the Wizards or Suns. 

Paul was excellent for Phoenix in his first season with the team, averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 assists per game while ending the franchise's 10-year playoff drought. Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and the young Suns helped Paul do something he'd never done in his future Hall of Fame career, meanwhile: reach the NBA Finals. 

The Suns couldn't topple Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, losing in six games. And the Western Conference will only be tougher next year, as teams such as the Lakers (Anthony Davis), Los Angeles Clippers (Kawhi Leonard), Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray) and Golden State Warriors (Klay Thompson) get injured stars back. 

Add in the already excellent Bucks and the prospect of a healthy Brooklyn Nets team with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving—and if Damian Lillard ends up forcing a trade this offseason, he could join with a superstar in a new city to create another title contender—and returning to Phoenix may not represent Paul's best chance to win a title. 

A James, Davis and Paul trio would be tough to beat. But Paul didn't exactly sound like a man clamoring to leave Phoenix after Tuesday's Game 6 defeat. 

"Everybody in that locker room knows we had enough, but it wasn't enough," he told reporters. "So, we got to figure it out. I think for me, I just look at myself and figure out how can I get better, what I could have done more and make sure I come back next season ready to do it again."


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