NBA rumors: Chris Paul could be 'face-saving trade target' for Lakers

NBA rumors: Chris Paul could be 'face-saving trade target' for Lakers

While the Warriors try to solve Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals, two of the Dubs' biggest rivals -- the Rockets and LeBron James -- are sitting at home trying to figure out a way to match the two-time defending champions.

With the Rockets trying to revamp their team to better combat the Warriors, and the Lakers trying to find another star to pair with James, there's a chance the two teams' offseason plans could converge this summer. 

As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported, the Rockets are currently putting every player, except James Harden, on the trading block in an attempt to build a better team around the 2018 NBA MVP. If Houston has any hope of giving Harden more to work with, the Rockets likely would need to find a way to move Chris Paul and the massive four-year, $160 million contract he signed last summer. 

For most teams, taking on Paul's contract would be a complete non-starter. But the Lakers, should they strike out in free agency, could be one of the few teams interested a Paul trade, according to Sporting News' Sean Deveney.

"Charlotte and Miami are among the teams that could be interested in Paul, " Deveney writes. "Phoenix is weighing its options at point guard, but there is an outside chance they'd get involved. And keep an eye on the Lakers or Knicks - it's likely that one of them will strike out in free agency and need a face-saving trade to rescue the summer. Paul is a face-saving trade target."

Hey, having half of the banana-boat crew in L.A. would be appealing to James, right? At least they could have really killer wine parties starting in April.

The Lakers, of course, will have their eyes on bigger fish to begin the summer, as the Purple and Gold look to land either Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler in free agency.

Should they strike out, though, the Lakers would have the cap space to absorb Paul's contract without having to match salaries, thus being able to retain their young core.

Paul, now 34, saw his play drop off this past season. He averaged just 15.6 points per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from the 3-point line. His play in the pick-and-roll, also took a hit, as he scored just 0.87 points per 100 possessions in the pick-and-roll this season. That's down from the 1.02 points per 100 he netted in the pick-and-roll last season. 

The Lakers adding Paul, at least at the moment, feels like a long shot. 

Despite the dysfunction in L.A., the Lakers still have a puncher's chance at landing a marquee free agent, and it's still hard to see Houston pushing the eject button on the Harden-Paul tandem after just two seasons. 

But after two straight defeats at the hands of the Warriors, Harden and Paul had some chemistry issues, and now the Rockets are left looking for answers.

The Lakers have been searching for answers ever since James hurt his groin during a Christmas Day win over the Dubs, and Paul could give James the running mate he desires. Or at least the appearance of one.

[RELATED: LeBron fuels Kyrie-to-Lakers talk with Instagram activity]

The NBA summer is about to be wild.

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

SAN FRANCISCO – When Andrew Wiggins came to the Warriors two weeks ago in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, it was as if he arrived with five unwanted tattoos scripted across his 6-foot-8 frame.

Doesn’t play defense.

Doesn’t shoot the 3-ball.

Doesn’t have a passion to be great.

Doesn’t love the game.

Doesn’t, repeating for emphasis, play defense.

Draymond Green, one of Wiggins’ new teammates, is on a quest to remove those invisible tats. Green fully believes they can fade into history, thereby reshaping the reputation attached to Wiggins over five-plus seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I think he can be an All-Defensive (team) player,” Green said after practice Wednesday. “That’s one of my goals for him, as the leader of this team, one of my things that I really want to push him on. He has all the tools. He has the athleticism. He reminds me a lot of Kevin (Durant), where they’re both long and lanky, but agile and can move. Very skinny guys, but not weak. From that aspect, it reminds me a lot of Kevin.

“Kevin’s a great defender. If (Wiggins) can continue to build on that, which I think he can ... on the defensive end, he can be really, really good.”

Wiggins’ defensive stats generally rate at the bottom levels, but there is reason to believe in appreciable improvement. His 2016-17 defensive rating of 107.9 was identical to that of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who entered the league one year earlier. Wiggins has twice over the past four seasons posted better individual defensive ratings than Trevor Ariza, who still maintains a reputation as a solid, if declining, defender.

Those numbers don’t vary much from those Wiggins posts in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus.

Such statistics, however, only hint at a player’s impact, rarely capturing the complete tale. There is plenty of video exposing Wiggins’ defensive ineffectiveness, and every one of them is with him as a part of a Timberwolves defense that annually ranked among the NBA’s worst.

Minnesota ranked no higher than 24th in defensive rating in any of the five full seasons with Wiggins on the roster. Only once over that span did the Timberwolves reach the playoffs.

“The thought wasn’t that he was a bad defender, anyway,” Green said, pointing out that the Warriors never sought to target him on that end. “He just hasn’t really been in a winning situation. And that’s when the defense gets the notoriety. He hasn’t been in that situation.”

Green also pushed back on the notion that Wiggins is low on desire, in the NBA perhaps for reasons other than love of the game.

“He wants to be great,” Green said. “He’s a guy who has been beat down a lot. Once again, people never talk about the situation guys are in. He wants to be great. He’s not demonstrative. He’s not very talkative. People would never say that or see it.

“But just talking to him, trying to get to know him and watching him work, he wants to be really good. I take that upon myself as a leader of this team, as one of the older guys on this team ... I want to help him do that any way I can.”

Not grasping, or even observing, reasons for the many critiques of Wiggins’ game, Draymond’s assessment is of a 23-year-old still building a career that has been no worse than respectable.

“That guy has averaged 20 points a game (actually 19.7) for three or four years, probably over his career,” Green said. “It’s not a f---ing bum we’re talking about. So, I’m not going to sit here and act like we found some diamond-in-the-rough that no one (knew about). He was the No. 1 pick. He’s averaged 20. He’s a player.”

[RELATED: Draymond jokes about wanting buyout from Warriors]

Green has spent the past few seasons providing guidance, offering constructive criticism while also giving his share of pep talks. Those things didn’t seem to move D’Angelo Russell, a tremendous scorer who plays to a beat only he can hear.

Wiggins is more malleable. And listening closely to Draymond’s vociferous defense of his new teammate, while also vowing full support, it’s clear that his new project is one in which he believes.

Warriors' Draymond Green jokes about wanting buyout to join playoff team

Warriors' Draymond Green jokes about wanting buyout to join playoff team

Breaking news: The Warriors are not going to the playoffs this season.

That means they have 27 games left and the offseason begins after the final horn sounds at around 9:30 p.m. PT on April 15.

So what does Draymond Green want to accomplish before the 2019-20 campaign comes to an end?

"A buyout," the three-time NBA champion told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "Go to a playoff team."

After a couple seconds, he smiled and said: "I'm just playing."

Draymond, whose four-year contract extension worth just under $100 million begins next season, has never missed the postseason since entering the league as the No. 35 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

It's going to be very strange for him to view the games from afar.

It's safe to assume that in addition to checking out the games on TV, Draymond probably will watch a lot of film on the top draft prospects as the Warriors most likely will have a top-five pick.

[RELATED: Why Kerr isn't entertaining idea of Klay playing this season]

But that's a conversation for another day. Green and his teammates have a job to do the next two months.

"Just trying to continue to get more rhythm with the guys that are here, continue to help them improve," Draymond said. "And really just work on my own game. Not often you get the opportunity to work on your game in a game setting.

"These games matter, but they don't matter. You're not playing for seeding or trying to preserve your legs for the playoffs. So you really get the chance to work on some things in game situations."

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