Chris Paul immediately solves Lakers' point guard needs
As the entrance to the Lakers' practice facility opened, Pau Gasol drove slowly toward the exit, waving to reporters walking nearby.
There was nothing meant by the friendly gesture, but it surely symbolized his departure from the Lakers. Times Lakers reporter Mike Bresnahan is reporting that the New Orleans Hornets will send Chris Paul to the Lakers in a three-team trade, while the Lakers will send Gasol to the Houston Rockets and Lamar Odom to the Hornets. In turn, the Lakers are also expected to acquire another frontcourt presence, possibly veteran Emeka Okafor. Once this becomes official Friday when training camp opens, some questions suddenly become irrelevant. The ones about whether the Lakers can upgrade their point guard needs, whether Lakers Coach Mike Brown keeps Derek Fisher as his starter or how Steve Blake will compete for more playing time no longer spark concern.
Paul's arrival immediatly adds the speed and the play-making abilities the Lakers need in Brown's traditional offense. It frees up Kobe Bryant to move off the ball. And here's the more tantalizing thought: with Andrew Bynum still remaining on the roster, that leaves the Lakers still with the chance to legitimately pursue Dwight Howard. Even if that doesnt work out, the Lakers have a trusty point guard to help mitigate the Lakers' previous shortcomings.
With Paul a legitimate volume shooter, he'll bolster the Lakers' outside shooting and force defenders to play the perimeter honestly. With Paul possessing lightning quick speed, he'll immediately beat opponents off the dribble and either drive the lane or drop a dime. Whether the Lakers have Bynum or Howard as their center, the Lakers will have a trusty point guard to throw those alley-oop lobs and entry passes with pinpoint accuracy.
Suddenly, optimism surrounding the Lakers' title chances should immediately blossom. The scary part: the Lakers may not be done.
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Photos: Chris Paul tries to drive past Lakers point guard Derek Fisher during a regular-season game last spring. Credit: Gina Ferazzi /Los Angeles Times