Fresh off a loss in the NBA Finals, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul has a $44.2 million decision to make in the coming days. The future Hall of Famer can opt out of his contract and hit NBA free agency. At this point, that seems to be a foregone conclusion.
While it makes sense that Paul would return to Phoenix, there’s a number of other contending teams interested in the 11-time All-Star’s services. For good reason. Despite being at the advanced age of 36, Paul was brilliant for the Suns a season ago. He averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists on 50% shooting from the field. Below, we look at five ideal destinations for CP3 this summer.
Chris Paul re-signs with the Phoenix Suns
From an on-court and financial standpoint, this makes the most sense for Paul. He led the Suns to within two wins of earning their first ever NBA title and built a tremendous relationship with fellow backcourt star Devin Booker.
It’s also important to note that the 36-year-old Paul is looking to cash in big time for that final time as he enters the twilight of his career. He can get roughly $45 million more in cold hard cash by re-signing with the Suns for four more years rather than joining another organization. Given that the only accomplishment missing from Paul’s resume is a title, returning to the Suns makes too much sense.
Chris Paul teams up with LeBron James
Immediately after Paul and his Suns were eliminated in the NBA Finals, rumors came out of Southern California regarding the Lakers’ interest in the future Hall of Famer. Legendary former star Magic Johnson added another element to that on social media.
To be perfectly clear, the Lakers are going big-game hunting as they attempt to upgrade over Dennis Schroder at point guard. That includes both Paul and Russell Westbrook. While the on-court fit with LeBron James and Co. makes a ton of sense, it’s highly unlikely that Los Angeles will be able to acquire Chris Paul. It would require a sign-and-trade with the Suns. Would Phoenix even consider taking on Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and cap-fillers? I don’t think so. Even then, it’s a fun scenario to look at.
Boston Celtics find a way to add Chris Paul
As with Los Angeles, it would take a sign-and-trade for the Celtics to acquire Paul. Unlike the Lakers, Boston might actually have the assets to entice Phoenix should it become clear that the star guard wants to head back east. That could include Boston swapping out Marcus Smart, Tristan Thompson and a youngster in that of Aaron Nesmith as well as picks.
In terms of a fit with the Celtics, this almost makes too much sense. New team president Brad Stevens dealt away fellow point guard Kemba Walker in his first trade since transitioning from the bench earlier this summer. There’s a need for someone to run the point in Boston. Paul teaming up with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would also create a championship-caliber roster in Beantown.
Chris Paul to the New Orleans Pelicans
If you think this is far-fetched, you have a short memory. No one really expected Paul to take a liking to being shipped off to Phoenix last offseason. He responded professionally, leading the organization to one of the best seasons in its history.
The idea here would be for Paul to team up with stud forward Zion Williamson and help duplicate that success in the Bayou. Remember, Pelicans front office head David Griffin is looking to make a win-now move to appease Williamson. Just imagine if that came in the form of a player in Chris Paul who played in New Orleans with the Hornets for the first six years of his career. Talk about coming full circle.
New York Knicks add Chris Paul
Of all the potential destinations for Paul, this has been talked about the most. There’s an obvious financial component to this in that New York is slated to have roughly $55 million in cap space and can sign Paul outright.
Coming off a surprise playoff appearance, the Knicks are now seen as a prime landing spot for big-name players. Adding Paul to the mix could conceivably also make them a top-end title contender back east. If the future Hall of Famer were to take a bit of a discount, it would enable front office head Leon Rose to potentially pull off a trade for another star player with the likes of Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons being bandied about.