Is Chris Paul to the Lakers Like Trying to Fit a Square in a Triangle?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJuly 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 6:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets controls the ball as he is guarded by Derek Fisher #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers on November 6, 2007 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Hornets won 118-104.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers fans have been swept up in the excitement of possibly landing New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul via trade, but some have voiced concerns on whether or not Paul would be a good fit for the Lakers.

This is a valid concern because the Lakers use of the triangle offense could possibly mute some of the qualities that make Paul special, although Paul is considered by some to be the NBA's top point guard.

The prevailing thought seems to be Paul is less effective when the offense doesn't run through him. In the triangle, it's less important who starts the offense because spacing and positioning takes center stage.

Paul is probably one of the best pick and roll point guards in basketball, and the Lakers thrive in that set, but the way they use it is dictated by advantages any player may have at a certain time.

Paul is more comfortable running the pick and roll from the top of the key, but in the triangle, he may be reduced to a cutter instead of initiator since the Lakers use the it all over the court.

I'm sure Paul is intelligent enough to adapt to the nuances of the Lakers scheme, and coach Phil Jackson would certainly make concessions if Paul were in the fold, but the fact the triangle is here to stay may not bode well for the Lakers landing Paul.

Paul's former coach in New Orleans was Lakers great Byron Scott, and until a few weeks ago, Scott was considered one of the front-runners to succeed Jackson once he stepped down.

Scott's acceptance of the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching position means Brian Shaw will likely assume the coaching reins once Jackson retires, and it is widely known that Shaw intends to continue the triangle tradition.

If Scott would have been named Jackson's successor, the chances for Paul choosing Los Angeles would have been greater because Scott is not tied to the triangle, and he already has a great relationship with Paul.

Paul was visibly upset when the Hornets fired Scott, and his dismissal ushered in the first rumblings of Paul being disillusioned by the direction New Orleans had decided to take.

Paul's discontent has grown in to a full-fledged demand to be traded, and it's likely the Lakers would have been at the very top of the list if Paul knew he had a chance to be reunited with his former coach.

That advantage is now out of the window. But all hope is not lost for Lakers fans because the best thing about the triangle offense is the philosophy it is built upon.

The triangle is more of an idea than an offensive scheme, and the flexibility in this thinking allows the Lakers to easily adapt to whatever defense they may be facing, or to whatever combination of Lakers personnel is on the floor.

Orchestrating all of this is Jackson, a coach who took Tex Winter's idea and made it his own to the tune of 11 NBA championships. Something tells me that Jackson could find an effective way to utilize Paul's talents.

The triangle doesn't need the presence of a true point guard, but during Jackson's tenure in Los Angeles, the Lakers have always had a true point guard at their disposal.

Just not one as talented as Paul.

But if Derek Fisher can thrive in the triangle, it's a good bet that Paul could too, and considering his ability to attack the rim and find open teammates, the Lakers would be foolish not to jump at the opportunity.

To observers, the triangle offense may be a negative in Paul's decision making process, but it's not like Paul is too square to learn it and eventually fit in.


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