Lakers Offseason Preview – Lebron’s Sidekick?

It’s no secret that Lakers hold all the power this offseason. With Lebron James, Paul George, Chris Paul, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard all being linked to one of the most iconic franchises in sports, the possibilities are endless.

Assuming the Lakers decide not to completely dismantle their team, they would likely have room for two max contracts this offseason, leaving them the opportunity to sign or trade for any two of the five stars listed above. Lebron James is clearly on another level from any of the other five, and understanding that the Lakers have the best chance of signing him, that leaves one max deal for the other four players.

Paul George, Chris Paul, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard are all fantastic and would immediately improve the young Lakers. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each player.

Paul George

Paul George has been linked to the Lakers for the longest of the four and has built a strong relationship with many of the young players currently on the Lakers. He would provide Lebron a great three-point shooter, defensive player, creator, and essentially a second star.

The glaring weakness of Paul George is his ability to play second fiddle to another star. While it is disrespectful to compare Lebron to Russell Westbrook, they each need the ball in their hands in the important situations of the game. In this years’ playoffs, George and Melo would stand in the corners and watch Westbrook struggle to create shots for himself against a hungry Jazz defense.

Assuming that Paul George was killed by user error with Billy Donovan and Russell Westbrook, he should fit next to Lebron just fine in the purple and gold.

Chris Paul

Of the four players, Chris Paul is arguably the most skilled and creates the most wins for his team. If the Lakers were to sign CP3, that also takes away a huge weapon from one of the Lakers’ eventual rivals in Houston.

While Chris may be the best option today, signing a 33-year-old to a 100+ million dollar contract can be scary. The Lakers know firsthand that ugly contracts can cripple for future, as they were forced to trade young star D’Angelo Russell away just to clear up the contract of Timofey Mozgov signed by previous management. Of the four, Paul is also the least rumored of joining the Lakers. It might not be smart for the Lakers to put all of their “eggs in the Chris Paul basket” without knowing for sure the mutual interest. Signing Paul would also force the Lakers to make a trade involving Lonzo Ball whether they’d want to or not. I believe Lonzo and Lebron and coexist, but CP3 and Lonzo would get redundant together, especially with Lebron needing the ball as well.

While the cons seem to outweigh the pros with Chris Paul, you can’t deny his skill. If the Lakers wanted to keep their young core around, could you imagine two better veterans to lead your team than Lebron and CP3?

Demarcus Cousins

As one of Demarcus Cousins’ biggest fans ever, I can assure you that he is a generational talent when given the opportunity. With his lack of playoff experience and emotional nature, people are quick to label Cousins as a perennial loser or “hot head.” Playing next to Lebron James under the bright lights of the Staples Center would hopefully clear those issues right up.

The risk with Demarcus Cousins comes with his injury history. After being forced to sit out the second half of last season with a torn achilles, no one knows if he will produce to Lebron’s expectations. Wesley Matthews tore his achilles in 2015. He hasn’t been the same player since. I’m sure the Lakers will do their due diligence and test the health of Cousins before signing him up to a max deal, but you’ll really never know for sure.

While the ferocity of Lebron James and Demarcus Cousins may look great on paper, the injury risks coming with the former King may be too much for the Lakers to look past.

Kawhi Leonard

Prior to last season, Kawhi Leonard was widely regarded as the best defender in the league and arguably even the best three-point shooter after averaging 26 points on 49% shooting from the field. He and Gregg Popovich were perfect for each other, and the Spurs were a threat in the Western Conference. Fast forward one year…

Kawhi Leonard sat out the entire season with an injury that should’ve taken no more than two months to heal. He was constantly being called out by his teammates, coaching staff, and the media for not caring enough about the team to play in the playoffs with his allegedly healed right quad.

The question for the Lakers is which Kawhi will you get; the unselfish, perimeter defending, three-point scoring system centerpiece, or the selfish, injury-prone quitter we saw last year?

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