Magic Johnson became one of the greatest point guards of all-time with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980’s. Three decades later, he’s doing his best to recruit another great ball-handler to join his former organization.
After being bounced in the first round of this year’s playoffs, the Lakers will be on the prowl for big names in free agency this summer to pair alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. For Johnson, atop the list sits Chris Paul.
Paul, 36, has been a major part of the Phoenix Suns turnaround in 2021. The franchise hadn’t made the postseason in over a decade, but now leads the Los Angeles Clippers 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals.
That being said, the All Star point guard is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, which gives him an out of Phoenix before next season if he wants to take it. Paul could exercise his $44 million player option, but if he doesn’t, Johnson thinks the Lakers should pounce as soon as possible.
“No question about it,” Johnson responded on ESPN LA 710 FM, when Jay Williams asked if he thought Paul could be a piece for the Lakers, if he declines his player option with the Suns. “I’d tell Jeanie [Buss] I’d ask some money for CP3. It’d be perfect for LeBron, for AD, and for the role players.”
.@RealJayWilliams: If CP3 doesn’t win w/ the Suns & declines his $44M option, can he be a piece for the Lakers?@MagicJohnson: “No question about it. I’d tell Jeanie I’d ask some money for CP3. It’d be perfect for LeBron, for AD, & for the role players.” https://t.co/Wda75IMccI
— ESPN Los Angeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) June 21, 2021
Even at the age of 36, Paul has been masterful for the Suns this season. He was named a Second Team All-NBA guard for the fifth time in his career, as he averaged 16.4 points and 8.9 assists per game on 50/40/90 percent shooting splits.
Paul brought veteran leadership and a toughness to an inexperienced Suns team led by Devin Booker and head coach Monty Williams. The group has rallied behind their point guard and now needs just six more wins to walk away with a championship.
A major outcome that will go into Paul’s decision-making for next season will be how the Suns current playoff run ends. If he wins a title, it seems likely that he’d exercise the option, pocket the $44 million and try to repeat in 2022.
But if the Suns blow a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals, or flame out in the NBA Finals, Paul might opt to join a different contender next year. No doubt, the Lakers would be among the first teams to give him a call.
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