If the Suns ultimately decide to waive Chris Paul on or before June 28, when his full $30.8MM salary for the 2023/24 season becomes guaranteed, the Lakers would have “strong” interest in signing the veteran point guard as a free agent, reports Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
The Lakers have been linked to Paul since a report last week stated that he’ll likely be waived unless the Suns find a suitable trade. Buha takes Los Angeles’ interest a step further in his latest report, suggesting that CP3 looks like the team’s top target at point guard in the event that D’Angelo Russell and/or Dennis Schröder aren’t re-signed.
As Buha explains, re-signing both Russell and Schröder is the simplest, cleanest, and perhaps most likely way for the Lakers to address their point guard position this summer. However, if they decide to go in another direction, Paul is a far more realistic option than free agents like Fred VanVleet or Kyrie Irving or potential trade targets like Damian Lillard and Trae Young.
Paul’s family in based in Los Angeles and he has a long-standing friendship with Lakers star LeBron James, Buha writes, pointing out that the two future Hall-of-Famers have envisioned playing together in the past. The 38-year-old would provide the Lakers with the type of “traditional floor general” they’ve lacked in recent years, Buha adds.
Since Paul is owed $15.8MM by the Suns even if he’s waived, Los Angeles could potentially bring him in on a minimum-salary contract or something close to it, creating cap flexibility for other moves. The veteran would also represent a low-risk addition, since his deal likely wouldn’t cover more than one season.
Of course, given that the Suns haven’t yet made a decision on Paul, the Lakers are preparing for other scenarios, starting with re-signing Russell. Team sources tell Buha that one possibility the club has discussed internally is bringing back D-Lo on a front-loaded two-year deal that would put him on the same timeline as James and Anthony Davis. Buha says such a contract could include a second-year option, but an option can’t have a lower cap hit than the prior season, so if they intend to front-load their offer, the Lakers couldn’t go that route.
The Lakers have also discussed the idea of re-signing Russell and adding Paul in free agency, per Buha, who says CP3 would be the favorite to become the starting point guard in that scenario.
Re-signing Schröder and bringing in Paul is considered less likely, since L.A. doesn’t want to lose Russell for nothing and only holds Schröder’s Non-Bird rights, but it’s another possibility. As Buha writes, the team knows Paul and Schröder can coexist, since they thrived together in Oklahoma City in 2019/20. The Lakers may have to dip into their mid-level exception in order to make a competitive offer for Schröder.