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Who should trade for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul? Evaluating the rumoured CP3 trade destinations

The rumour mill hasn't been short of Chris Paul trade stories.

With the Oklahoma City Thunder likely looking to rebuild and Paul nearing the end of what will likely be a Hall of Fame career, all signs point to the two sides potentially splitting up this offseason.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks have all reportedly been CP3 destinations this offseason. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen as Paul is in the middle of a four-year $160 million contract. Paul is still due over $85 million on the deal, which will make it tough for any team to match his salary without depleting their depth.

It will make it tough, but not impossible, which is why we asked our NBA.com Staff to weigh-in on the possibility of Paul landing in the rumoured destinations.

Should the Lakers trade for Chris Paul?

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): As great as it would be on paper to have LeBron, AD and CP3 all on one court together, I'd say no.

The Lakers just won the title and did it missing a key piece like Avery Bradley. They're already favoured to win the championship again next season according to most oddsmakers. They'll have another year under their belt of playing together and the confidence that comes with winning a title.

If trading for CP3 was an easy process, I'd say go for it, but according to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports, the Lakers would have to send OKC at least $33 million in salary to acquire Paul. Obviously, they wouldn't include LeBron or AD, so L.A. would have to create a package that would include six or seven players like Danny Green, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee, Kyle Kuzma, Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso - basically the whole team. They'd also have to hope some of those players opt-in to their deals next season before getting shipped out elsewhere.

I wouldn't completely rule it out, but I can't imagine it happening. Even if it was an easier move, I'd stand pat if I was the Lakers and try and run it back with the same group of guys that just won in the Orlando bubble.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): In theory, they should do it but the simple fact that they're virtually unable to do it makes this idea a dream more than anything.

While the Lakers won this past year, they are a team that has some flaws that must be improved upon in order for them to live up to expectations to repeat. I don't think simply running it back is going to be enough.

That being said, they shouldn't waste their time or energy in thinking of scenarios that have an extremely small likelihood of actually happening, as much as I'd love to see CP get the best shot of his career to capture a title.

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): No.

There's absolutely no reason to trade for Paul. Right now, the championship-winning squad Lakers have their identity set. It's of a defensively-minded team, anchored by Davis, that will run a majority of its offence with the ball in the hands of LeBron James. Plus, as Carlan mentioned, the package the Lakers would have to offer is literally their entire supporting cast, one that they have quite carefully crafted around the talents of their All-Stars, who have pretty good chemistry on and off the court.

So, why fix something that isn't broken? I'm not saying the Lakers have no weak spots, but those only require small tinkering and not a big trade deal that would bring Paul back to Los Angeles.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Sure, the Lakers just won a championship, but with the Western Conference race next season expected to be even tougher, I say swing for the fences and get CP3.

Rob Pelinka's forward-thinking planning of only giving out two-year deals in free agency to a lot of the role players signed was to set up roster flexibility for a move like this and as they enter the offseason, they have just seven players on the books for next season.

Paul will be the fifth-highest paid player in the league next season, owed $41.4 million and $44.2 million the following season, so the downside, of course, is that they would part ways with a ton of players to get the deal done, depleting their depth. But I don't think the Lakers will struggle to attract veteran role players who will want to join the team for a shot at a ring.

According to Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, a move back to LA is something Paul would desire: "Chris Paul would love to come back to L.A. I know it would be a dream come true for Chris," an Eastern Conference executive said. "I know LeBron loves and trusts him and he would be a good fit."

Should the Bucks trade for Chris Paul?

Gay: 110 percent yes.

Milwaukee is missing something, they're missing the "it" factor to push them over the top. They have one of the best players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo and a great second star in Khris Middleton, but adding CP3 would signal to Giannis (who could leave Milwaukee in 2021) and the rest of the league that they are pushing their chips to the middle of the table in 2020-21.

Swing for the fences, Milwaukee, don't ask yourself what could have been.

McGregor: I'm with Carlan here.

There are a number of ways that making a move for Paul could work out for the Bucks but in my mind, none of them would be met with that much regret. On the other hand, making a decision to stand pat or make minor changes has to result in a championship, if not, they'll be wondering "what if?" while very possibly bidding farewell to their back-to-back MVP.

If you're Milwaukee and there's a path to make this happen, you make this happen.

Matange: I'm on board too.

Although the Bucks looked dominant in the regular season, that's not the style of play in the postseason and their Conference Semifinal exit might have led them to that thinking. When the game slows down, and their crisp passing isn't working or the opponents have them figured out, they seem to need a ball-handler, ideally a point guard, who can create offence by himself and get others going.

CP3 fits that profile. So, if the Bucks can get the deal going while keeping their core players in Middleton and Antetokounmpo, they should go for it. The league has plenty of talent for them to choose from to rebuild a supporting cast that fits around these stars. Go all in, Bucks!

Kidane: If they can acquire Paul without giving up Middleton, then they have to at least try and make the move.

Stand pat and Giannis could walk for nothing in free agency the following year. Trading for Paul is a signal of intent, that the Bucks are serious about building a winner around their two-time MVP.

As Yash said, a trade for Paul is a move for the postseason. The Bucks have shown they can rack up regular-season wins, but CP3 gives the Bucks a playmaker who can seize control of the offence when things get bogged down and assume the responsibility of their late-game execution.

Should the Heat go after Chris Paul?

Gay: Taking a page out of my guy Scott Rafferty's book, I'm on the fence here.

It really depends on the deal for me, but I think I'm actually leaning towards going for it. Like every team in this scenario, matching salaries will be tough to acquire CP3, but the Heat could do it without completely gutting their depth. The tough part is they'll likely have to include a talented young player like Tyler Herro to get it done. Herro will be really good for a long time, but that might take time. Miami could win in 2020-21 with a core of Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Paul.

McGregor: Nah, stand firm, play the free-agent market and let the young guys continue to grow.

While Butler is now 31 and it's going to be some time before Herro becomes that third guy, I look at that as a positive, rather than a negative. The Heat are ahead of schedule, if Herro can become who it looks like he'll be, that will likely align with Butler taking a step or two back while Bam could be moving into the "superstar" tier.

Some decisions must be made about Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder but going about it without a major trade means Miami will be big players next offseason, and it feels like that's what Pat Riley's sights are set on.

Matange: I'm with Gil on this.

All through the 2019-20 season, especially the bubble, the Heat looked in-sync on and off the court. Everybody knew their roles and were comfortable with them, and I don't think adding Chris Paul to this mix is a good idea. Yes, CP3 has looked healthier this season but I have my doubts how well he'll be able to mesh within the "Heat culture."

Not to mention the fact that trying to make a deal that would include your promising young talents wouldn't make sense for an ageing All-Star who's closer to 40 than 30.

Kidane: If I'm the Heat, I'm running it back with this group and keeping my eyes on 2021 free agency.

The depth of the Heat's roster played a huge role in their run to the Finals this season and I'm not sure if adding Paul into the mix and taking the ball out of Butler's hands late in games is going to make them that much better than they already are.

Should the Knicks trade for Chris Paul?

Gay: Heck no.

I know the Knicks are dying to get back to the playoffs and eventually get back to competing for titles, but they aren't doing that in the next two seasons. Paul's timeline doesn't match up with New York's and the Knicks have far more problems than simply adding Paul to the mix to fix their issues.

Be patient, New York, and build the right way.

McGregor: No, just no.

I really struggle to see how beneficial it would be for either party, honestly. While CP did a lot for an OKC team that was expected to be at the bottom of the league last season, the situation in New York … isn't that.

I do think Chris' greatness will elevate the players around him and he will continue having an opportunity to "just hoop" as he's done so well with the Thunder but I think better moves could be made for what the Knicks are trying to do in returning to relevance and I know better moves could be made for what CP is trying to do in winning a title.

Matange: Why not?

I don't see why the Knicks shouldn't try. I mean, if anything, Paul has shown that he can be a leader and create a franchise culture that will help the young players around him develop and while they haven't performed, there's certainly no doubts regarding the potential in the Knicks' young guns like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. Maybe even Kevin Knox?

However, I wouldn't go all in. That isn't the way the Knicks rebuild should go. Paul isn't going to single-handedly transform the franchise by himself, right? I'm not sure if it's possible, but if the Knicks can make this deal without giving up Barrett and Robinson, I'm excited to see CP3 at MSG.

Kidane: I get the Knicks want to return to relevancy as soon as possible, but I'm not sure that bringing in Chris Paul is the move.

Firstly, the Thunder roster that he excelled with in 2019-20 is significantly better than the Knicks' group of young players, so I don't think adding CP3 automatically makes them a playoff team.

Stay the course and continue to develop the core of RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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