The Phoenix Suns fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals this past week. Despite a valiant effort, the Western Conference champs simply couldn’t get the job done against Giannis Antetokounmpo when it mattered most.
The Suns' inability to win a title didn’t just result in them being forced to watch Antetokounmpo become the new face of the NBA, it could also have massive ramifications on the roster makeup heading into next season.
Chris Paul, the team’s leader and most respected veteran presence, has a $44.2 million player option for the 2021-22 season. By all accounts he wants a situation where, instead of just securing a massive payday next season, he gets a few more years at smaller annual sums.
One team that could offer that to him? The Los Angeles Lakers.
In fact, according to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Lakers pose a very realistic threat to steal Paul away from the Suns:
“I still see the Lakers as the most realistic threat to derailing the Suns’ hopes of re-signing Paul, no matter how hard it is to pinpoint a pathway for them to acquire him because of the cap complexities.
“The reasoning: We know Paul would want to play again in Los Angeles, where his family still resides during the season, and also that he would want to play alongside James.”
While the idea of the Suns doing a sign-and-trade that sends Paul to a divisional rival sounds improbable, it’s worth remembering two things: 1. They’ve done it before with Steve Nash, and 2. GM James Jones is very close friends with LeBron James.
Moreover, the Lakers badly need a competent point guard. The team was rife with dysfunction and feuding all season long, and a stabilizing presence like Paul could go a long way in fixing that.
The imminent departure of Dennis Schroder, be it in a blockbuster sign-and-trade or simply by going to the only other team that’ll have him, means the Lakers’ back court needs a boost heading into next season. Paul would provide that — and some.
Will L.A. be able to get something done? It remains to be seen. But the prospect of it occurring seems far more realistic now that it was a few weeks ago.