When Chris Paul was elected President of the NBA’s Players Association, he knew full well that he was set to be a free agent in 2017 and could use his power to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement that would favor players like him.
Paul is a veteran in the league with more than 10 years of experience and if he re-signs with the Clippers, he is eligible for the “supermax extension” which could be worth $205 million over five years, an average of roughly $40 million per season.
If Paul were to flee Los Angeles and head to San Antonio or Houston, he could sign for no more than $152 million for four years.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said last week it is unlikely Paul will leave all that money on the table, and who could blame him? But if Paul were to leave the Clippers, these teams could be intriguing destinations.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are desperately trying to find a trade partner for LaMarcus Aldridge but it doesn’t seem there is much interest around the league. Trading Aldridge would be the easiest way for the Spurs to clear enough salary cap room to sign Paul to a max deal.
On the floor, Paul would be a tremendous fit in Gregg Popovich’s system. Though he has slowed in recent years, Paul can defend at the point of attack and would give Kawhi Leonard another legitimate scoring threat from the perimeter.
Paul is known to bark constantly on the court which might take a while for Pop to get used to as he has always had full control over his players.
But if Paul is looking to make a Western Conference Finals appearance and challenge the Warriors, signing with the Spurs is his best option.
For Paul, a player who relishes the big city spotlight, heading to Milwaukee seems unlikely, but on the court it makes a ton of sense. The Bucks are an interesting team because The Greek Freak plays such an untraditional role.
At times, he serves as a point-center, bringing the ball up the court and setting up the offense but also defending the rim on defense. Inserting Chris Paul into a young lineup with long wings and playmakers all over the court could be devastating.
Think about the Bucks first-round series with the Raptors: a Delly/Greek Freak pick-and-roll gave The Drakes fits. Paul should seriously consider Milwaukee, a team in the East who is clearly ready to compete, and already has a young superstar on the roster.
Apparently the Rockets are making a push to go after Paul, a quintessential Daryl Morey move. Morey, the Rockets GM, believes the best way to compete in the NBA is to assemble the best talent possible then worry about how it fits together on the court and in the locker room at a later date.
How would two of the most ball-dominant players of all time in Paul and James Harden fit together on the court? It’s hard to imagine Paul standing in the corner as Harden orchestrates the offense at the top of the key. Paul is a good enough spot-up and midrange shooter to make it work but it still seems like a weird fit.
Investing in a backcourt mate for Harden when Patrick Beverley is already signed to a team friendly deal doesn’t make sense.
Maybe Morey, who told ESPN’s Zach Lowe he had something up his sleeve, is throwing us all of the scent by claiming he is going after CP3.
New Orleans Pelicans
Could a return to the Big Easy be on the cards for CP3? After trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are turning back the clock and playing with two conventional bigs as the rest of the league looks to play smaller and faster.
But, in that system it is a vital to have a point guard who can make an entry pass, run pick and roll and knock down an open shot.
Paul might be the best pure point guard in the last 20 years and has shown an incredible ability to improve his teammates’ stats and make them millions of dollars.
The Pelicans, who went all-in on Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore last summer, would have to move a ton of money to sign Paul and it seems very unlikely. I’d give this less than a one percent chance of happening.
New York Knicks
Remember how hype Knicks fans were when Paul famously told Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire they would form their own Big 3 in New York? Hah! But as the Knicks continue to rebuild, they may have some pieces that intrigue Paul.
Kristaps Porzinigis has never played with a point guard who looks to put him in the right spots and it has clearly stunted his growth. The Knicks new French shooting guard could theoretically play next to Paul in the backcourt.
Again, it would be nearly impossible to make the money work on the Knicks as they would have to find a team dumb enough to take on Joakim Noah’s contract which still has three years and upwards of $50 million left on it. The Knicks are in a tough spot but what else is new?