Chris Paul’s best potential landing spots if he becomes a free agent
Jun 7, 2023, 5:45 PM | Updated: 5:54 pm
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Any team Chris Paul joins will be much better by adding him. I can’t believe I have to type this, but after a down year with more injuries, the insta-reactions online and narrative twisters will get out of hand.
After Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes dropped a bomb on Wednesday that the Phoenix Suns informed Paul he’s getting waived, The Athletic’s Shams Charania came flying down in transition to soar up for the chase-down block, clarifying Phoenix is exploring all possibilities. That includes waiving and stretching Paul, as well as trading him.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski saw all the fun being had and chimed in with his own information. He noted Paul wants to stay in Phoenix but would also like the Suns to expedite the process if possible so he knows if he’s a free agent or not.
I can confirm from the team that Paul has not been waived and, per team sources, that the Suns are exploring those previously reported avenues.
It’s a mess. But all the reporting more or less confirmed what we knew already, that Paul’s future in Phoenix is uncertain.
Let’s operate under the notion that Paul is going to be a free agent, a fate that could still end with him re-joining the Suns if they simply waive him, no team claims him and Phoenix brings him back on the veteran’s minimum.
If Paul is willing to sign on the minimum, he should be heavily sought after. Every team should call him.
Who makes the most sense? Let’s start logically and then progressively lose our marbles together if you’ve got any left in your noggin after the day’s events.
It’s Probably One of These Three Tier
There’s a decent chance there is a plan in place and the Suns knew coming into the offseason they were going to waive and then re-sign Paul. That would open up the Suns’ taxpayer mid-level exception, which they could use to add another wing or guard. Additionally, they could explore trading Deandre Ayton for two-to-three players in order to round out the top-half of the roster.
As Wojnarowski notes, Paul loves it in the Valley and very much enjoys playing with Devin Booker. He hardly got a taste of doing so with Kevin Durant.
Phoenix would need hitting-the-lottery luck to move on from Paul and replace him with someone of his caliber for next season.
That adds everything up for why. But it’s not always that simple.
Los Angeles Lakers
This has to be at the top for a myriad of reasons.
For one, Paul resides in Los Angeles with his family and coming to Phoenix provided him the huge bonus of quick trips back and forth. Paul moving halfway across the country or further would be surprising.
He would also get to reunite with LeBron James, who he won two Olympic gold medals with and would potentially end his NBA journey as James’ teammate. The banana boat prophecy fulfilled, all these years later.
Along with Anthony Davis as the other star, Los Angeles has two key young players entering restricted free agency in Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves. In addition, Jarred Vanderbilt is still under contract next year, as is Mo Bamba.
Outside of that, there’s hardly any other guaranteed money around, so L.A. has the versatility to offer Paul a decent-sized contract beyond the minimum.
It’s certainly one of the best fits strictly for winning a championship, and then there’s the fact that it’s a historic franchise in his backyard.
Los Angeles Clippers
This one I don’t personally see but because of Paul’s home in L.A. and the Clippers being positioned to contend, we’ll note it.
I’d be shocked, however, if Paul bet his last great run on the health of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Playing for Ty Lue would be another plus.
Will Chris Paul Move Far Away From His Family And Take A Pay Cut Tier
New Orleans Pelicans
Alright, let’s say the minimum is on the table and Paul is willing to be in a different time zone than his family. It’s hard to do better than multiple reunions in New Orleans.
Paul speaks incredibly fondly of his time in the bayou, the place where he started his NBA career and has other family in too. Then there’s head coach Willie Green, a former teammate and coach of Paul’s who the guard routinely refers to as a brother.
The Pelicans run their offense without a traditional point guard, which is where Paul could slot in. While the insertion of the veteran would bump someone like Herb Jones or Trey Murphy III to the bench, it is one of the deepest rosters in the league that would allow New Orleans to preserve Paul for the postseason.
Some might doubt if that squad could win a ring but I would not be one. And that’s before factoring in a healthy Zion Williamson.
If Paul is really trying to win, this might be the pick. Jrue Holiday would be the perfect backcourt mate. It’s a spot in the starting lineup Milwaukee has struggled to perfectly fill in alongside Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.
That is three of the best defenders on planet Earth that would help cushion Paul’s biggest weakness at this point, and Paul is still a good overall defender at this stage of his career.
The most lacking area for Milwaukee in the last couple of years has been some extra juice on the ball to help out Middleton and Holiday when it isn’t the Antetokounmpo show. Can you imagine a Paul pick-and-roll with Antetokounpo diving or Lopez popping? Whew. Forget about it.
Similar treading here. Boston lacks an out-and-out floor general, where Paul could relieve Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Less of that stress on the likes of Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart and Derrick White would help that trio be even better. Al Horford and Robert Williams would form a great center partnership with the point guard as well. Horford, in particular, would be an excellent match.
Like New Orleans, it’s a really freaking good team already that is deep and equipped with some serious star power. The scary thing about Paul’s ability to boost rebuilding teams in the past like Oklahoma City and Phoenix is he could do that for a contender as well. Boston’s a perfect match for that.
With all the noise surrounding James Harden and Houston, Paul could swoop right in his place.
MVP Joel Embiid is one heck of a running mate for anyone. The pieces around him aren’t as appealing to me compared to some of the other teams we’ve gone over but there’s still a lot to like.
Let’s Get Weird Tier
I’m just laughing to myself thinking about how much Mikal Bridges is going to annoy his former teammate over the next month, campaigning for him to come to Brooklyn.
CP3 on his kids pic.twitter.com/oR63sKEeW6
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) April 24, 2021
Bridges is pretty much everyone’s favorite teammate, and running it back with The Twins would at the very least be extremely fun. That Nets team would be capable of a deep playoff run as well.
This would be more in line with Paul’s stops in OKC and the Valley of helping get a younger group a few steps ahead, but like I said, it would be fun!
Boy, that Ja Morant situation doesn’t sound good, huh? How about a one-year stopgap from one of the best to ever do it?
It’s easy to forget that, like New Orleans, there was a time Memphis looked like it was going to be the team to beat in the West. It turns out the Grizzlies were not fine there but they could be again with Paul at the PG spot if Morant’s next suspension goes the whole season.