Kyrie vs CP3: Which star point guard should the Lakers sign?

Chris Paul, Houston Rockets and Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets and Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images /
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Kyrie Irving Lakers
Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks. Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images /

Making the case for Lakers to sign Kyrie Irving

Chris Paul is currently 38 years old and counting, and if he hasn’t fallen off the cliff yet, is at least starting to tumble down the hill towards it. Kyrie Irving, while no spring chicken, is just 31 years old and firmly in the midst of his prime. Paul averaged 13.9 points per game last season with a 55.5 percent true shooting percentage. Irving, playing in both Brooklyn and Dallas, averaged 27.1 points per game on 61.3 percent true shooting.

If the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for someone to score the basketball, there are few players on the free agent market better equipped than Kyrie Irving; in fact, he might be at the very top of that list. Irving is a confident and capable shooter beyond the arc or from midrange, and there are few players in NBA history with his touch finishing at the rim. He’s not as great of a passer as Paul, but in part that’s because he (rightfully) calls his own number more often when the ball is in his hands.

Defensively, Irving has more size than Paul but tends to run hot or cold on that end. He loves to go after steals and when he locks in can stick with opposing players, but he often lapses into a less-engaged defensive player who can more easily get beat or knocked off his spot.

There is no question that Irving is overall a better basketball player at this point in their respective careers, but the two off-court factors make this a much more difficult decision. Financially, Irving is almost certainly not coming to the Lakers for the MLE. The Lakers would need to clear everyone possible from their books to sign Irving to a deal below his max, then rebuild with a few exceptions and minimum contracts.

There is also the question of Irving’s unpredictable approach to life in this universe. He is the player in the NBA most likely to walk away from basketball for days or weeks for unexpected reasons, or to cause a media firestorm around himself for his words and actions. Do the Lakers trust him to stay locked into the cause if he’s playing with LeBron James? They would need to be very confident in his commitment to the season to sign him.