The Los Angeles Lakers should've traded Andrew Bynum for Chris Paul when they had the chance. Phil Jackson was reportedly against any deal for Paul, which is why nothing materialized. I think the window of opportunity may still be barely open. If the CP3 trade rumors surface again, I think Los Angeles can and should try to get him.
Jackson is the most successful coach in the history of the NBA, and one could argue the greatest basketball coach that has ever lived. He led the Chicago Bulls to six titles and is looking for a sixth with the Los Angeles Lakers this year.
Chris Paul is undoubtedly one of the top five point guards in the league right now, even after missing a significant amount of time due to injury last season. He's average 19.3 points and 10 assists per game over the course of his five years playing for the Hornets.
So when trade rumors involving Paul heading to the Lakers emerged this past summer, why didn't Phil Jackson jump at the opportunity?
Paul was said to be a bad fit in Jackson's triangle offense. The Lakers coach is typically inclined to want bigger point guards who don't mind having the offense run through someone other than themselves.
In Chicago, the offense ran through Michael Jordan. In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant is the man.
Another reason they hesitated to make any deal was because the Hornets would've wanted Andrew Bynum in return. He's a young, talented center and combined with Pau Gasol gives the Lakers a size advantage inside against almost any other team.
OK, so Chris Paul doesn't exactly fit in to Phil Jackson's scheme. However, Jackson is almost certainly going to be done coaching after this year.
In addition to that, outside of Andrew Bynum, the team is going to start showing its age soon. Nine players on the roster are on the wrong side of 30, including Kobe, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
The player they want to build around for the future is presumably Andrew Bynum. There is one glaring issue with that plan. Bynum cannot seem to stay healthy. If he could stay on the active roster for even close to a full season, he'd be a great player to build around.
He's a legitimate seven-footer. He has a solid repertoire of post moves, great touch around the basket and he plays tough defense inside. Like I said, he just can't stay on the court.
In my opinion, the Lakers should look to put their post-Phil/Kobe destiny in the hands of Chris Paul, rather than Andrew Bynum.
Paul could have 10 good years left in the NBA and whatever coach replaces Phil Jackson would certainly love to have one of the game's best playmakers on the roster for seasons to come.
For right now, the Lakers would instantly have the best backcourt in the NBA if they acquired Paul. He and Kobe Bryant would be unguardable. Plus, he would take an awful lot of pressure off of Kobe and make it much easier for him to score.
The loss of size won't be a huge issue for the Lakers. They know how to play without Bynum because his injuries have forced the team to do so many times. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol would still be one of the best frontcourts in basketball.
One question mark on the Hornets end of the deal is this: Would they even want the Lakers fragile center?
The answer is yes, assuming Chris Paul pushes hard enough to get out. Bynum is a risk, but there is enough upside there to make the Hornets consider pulling the trigger.
The fact that the Hornets also wanted to unload Emeka Okafor as a part of any Paul trades was another obstacle to getting a deal done.
The Lakers can overcome that as well. A straight-up Paul for Bynum switch works salary-wise. However, if New Orleans insists on Los Angeles taking Okafor as well, the Lakers can throw Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic with his expiring contract into the deal.
Okafor would actually fit in well with Los Angeles for a couple years. The team loves to have veteran players, and he'd be a better backup PF/C than Theo Ratliff.
A Lakers lineup of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol would easily be the favorite to win a title.
If New Orleans risk of going after Bynum paid off and he stayed healthy, they'd have a great young center to build around for the future.
It will be fun to see what happens if and when Chris Paul starts to ask to be traded again.