Report: Lakers have interest in Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook
The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to pursue creative ways to add a third star player this summer, and point guard is a position they are likely to focus on. As luck would have it, Chris Paul has the ability to become a free agent this summer.
Paul, who is close friends with LeBron James, has a $44.2 million player option on his contract for next season. The Phoenix Suns want to keep him, but Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reports that the Lakers are expected to pursue CP3. They also have interest in Russell Westbrook.
Adding either Paul or Westbrook would require some creativity from the Lakers. They don’t have the salary cap space to add another max contract player, so signing Paul outright isn’t an option. Westbrook is signed through next season, which means L.A. would have to acquire him via trade. Spears was told by sources that the Lakers could include Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker in a potential trade for Westbrook.
If Paul wants to join LeBron and Anthony Davis in L.A., he might ask the Suns for a sign-and-trade. Schroder is also set to become a free agent, so the Lakers could involve him in a sign-and-trade as well. It’s unclear if Phoenix would have interest in replacing Paul with Schroder, however.
Paul’s importance to the Suns this season cannot be overstated. It goes without saying that they want to keep him, and a little-known rule in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement may work in their favor. However, we are reminded every year that star players call the shots in the NBA. If Paul wants out, the Suns would be forced to explore all options. A sign-and-trade with the Lakers would be one way to secure a replacement without having to compete with other teams in free agency.