What If Chris Paul Was a Los Angeles Laker?
Several seasons ago, the Los Angeles Lakers made a franchise-changing move in trading for superstar Chris Paul. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom would have been on their way out, and the Lakers would have had a strong nucleus of Paul, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum heading into the season. Unfortunately, the trade was vetoed, and the Lakers have been unable to maintain their elite status since.
If Paul had come to the Lakers, there is no doubt that the team would be in a completely different situation. While Paul has battled several injuries, he has also proven that he is the best point guard in the game. He is a true playmaker, but has shown that he is willing to play off the ball at various points to allow his teammates to get their offense going. Bryant respects Paul, and most likely would have been okay with sharing ball-handling duties with the star point guard.
That year, with a nucleus of Bryant, Paul and Bynum, the Lakers would have had a better chance of winning the West. They actually played well against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but poor play down the stretch ruined their chances. Bynum would have fit better with a pass-first point guard who would be willing to get him the ball, and could have taken his game to a new level. While Paul isn’t afraid to ride his teammates, he also is willing to play more of a teaching role, which would have gone well with the more demonstrative Bryant.
If the Lakers weren’t successful in the playoffs, then they probably would have again tried to bring Dwight Howard to Los Angeles in the offseason. Howard’s experience would have been much different if Paul was there. Paul has shown that he can push his teammates in the right direction, and has a good relationship with Howard. He might have been that much-needed bridge in between Bryant and Howard that would have made the team successful.
Going forward, the Lakers would have had two superstars to transition the team into the post-Bryant era. The team might have had some luxury tax issues, but Mitch Kupchak showed this season that he can convince players to take less money to play for the Lakers. The Lakers would certainly not have been lottery bound and searching for solutions this offseason.