Future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul is expected to be traded away from the Oklahoma City Thunder, but to where? Paul is a 35-year-old guard in an increasingly athletic league, so his age could worry some GMs. Paul himself is reportedly eyeing two landing spots: New York and Los Angeles.
Chris Paul reportedly prefers his next basketball home to be in Los Angeles or New York;— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 2, 2020
“I’ve been told by a league source that Chris Paul prefers his next basketball home to be either in LA or NY.”
(via @JCMacriNBA, h/t @LakersDailyCom) pic.twitter.com/ahF8opMYYC
The Knicks and Lakers are the obvious teams in the running, if this report is true. Paul lives in L.A. during the offseason, and nothing is more convenient than living in a vacation home full-time. Chris Paul’s contract, which pays him nearly $40 million/year until 2022, presents the biggest obstacle to joining the Lakers.
But who has the best package for Chris Paul?
New York doesn’t have a ton of capital when it comes to players on their active roster. Oklahoma City doesn’t want to fix young projects. They prefer to capitalize on draft assets. The Knickerbockers, who have stunk up the court the past few years, have plenty of draft capital. Their eighth overall pick could be a solid start to a trade package for Chris Paul. The Lakers don’t have any cheap assets that a small market like OKC could handle long-term.
There needs to be a happy medium between patience and desperation for the Knicks to become contenders again. Trading for a star that’s old enough to chaperone a high school dance is a bold strategy, but it’s not insane. The Lakers invested a 4-year, $154 million contract in a 34-year-old LeBron James. Taking risks can work in the NBA, so maybe now’s the time for the Knicks to throw down for a player worth seeing at Madison Square Garden.
The Lakers can deal Kyle Kuzma as well as a bunch of cap fillers like Danny Green. Kuzma is expecting a deal this offseason, so OKC would need to plan for that. No one likes spending money when they aren’t ready to win, and the Thunder aren’t ready to win. Kuzma has also failed to live up to his potential, leaving teams to question what type of player he would be in their system. He didn’t shoot the ball well at all (31.6% from three), even with LeBron and Anthony Davis setting him up.
Many executives from around the NBA believe that Kuzma could flourish again if given a more defined role on offense. He was a shooter early in his career, and that designated role gave him confidence and sharpened his focus. The Lakers were hoping for that kind of offensive contribution in 2020, but Kuzma never seemed to fit. Oklahoma City and their small market might be able to capitalize on it now.
What’s the better fit?
The Knicks are the better fit. The Lakers don’t need Chris Paul. They need something else: a shooter. Chris Paul is a dynamic shooter, but he would force the front office to give up other shooters to accommodate his contract. Adding Paul as a shooting point guard may take away from other spots on the floor. A CP3-Lebron-AD trio would likely mean that the Lakers could no longer afford Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the best three-point shooter on the team at 38.5%.
New York needs a breath of fresh air, and Chris Paul could help the Knicks win games now. If they ever hope to pull in a star like Giannis or even Donovan Mitchell in the coming years, they’ll need to show some signs of life first. Chris Paul to the Knicks should happen, no matter how much it costs.