NBA Rumor: Chris Paul Free Agency

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I bring up Hayward because of the similarity of their contractual situations. Paul has a player option for 2021-22 that pays him $44 million, so he’s not walking away from that for just anything. But as with Hayward a year ago (who turned down a $35 million option once four years and $120 million were on the table from Charlotte), one wonders if Paul might walk away from the option year if a longer deal for less annual money were out there. He won’t lack for suitors. Dallas, for instance, is craving a secondary ballhandler to pair next to Luka Doncic and just so happens to have about $35 million in cap room coming its way. Could the Mavs offer a three-year deal worth $110 million to lure CP3 to Texas as the third pillar of an All-Star triangle next to Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis?

A few wilder scenarios also stand out. What about a return to New Orleans, for instance? The Pelicans could get to $30 million, cap-room wise, if they let Lonzo Ball walk and use the stretch provision on Eric Bledsoe. And the Knicks, of course, will always lurk as a team willing to overpay for a star. New York needs a point guard, is firmly in win-now mode and could offer Paul his max, $124 million over three years … while still having $20 million or so left over to bring in more help.

It’s too soon to tell how well the Suns’ and their point guard’s timelines will sync up. Paul has a player option worth $44 million for 2021-22, but if his play and the team’s results both shine, he could be on the move again just as Booker, Ayton, Bridges and the rest are hitting their stride. For now, though, there’s an unmistakable sense of ownership, even pride, in Paul’s voice when he talks about the Suns’ capacity to win and build at the same time. “I’m gonna tell you something: Win or lose this game, I already know who this team is,” Paul said after Friday’s victory. “I know who every guy on this team is. I know what they’re made of. I know the kind of energy they bring … Regardless of what happens night in and night out, I know what type of team we have and what each guy represents.”

Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul dismissed the idea that being stuck on a rebuilding team in OKC next season will be a problem in an interview during Game 3 of the NBA Finals Sunday night. “I just love to hoop,” Paul said while watching as a virtual fan, talking to the broadcast team of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. “[Former Thunder coach] Billy Donovan was amazing. My teammates have been amazing. “So, for me, you call it twilight years, I call it a blessing. Just being able to compete at a high level at 35 years old, [I’m going to] just keep rolling.”

Chris Paul: No plans of opting out

“January was like a lifetime ago… You told Sports Illustrated at that point that you didn’t have any plans to opt out of the last year, $44 million, of your contract to seek a trade or anything like that… Where are you with that today?” Kellerman asked. Paul remained consistent. “I don’t control that… Sam Presti has been amazing this year and Oklahoma was amazing, obviously we’ll see what happens this summer or whatnot. It’s nice to be here and be close to my family. I think for me, I’m gonna let everything play out, see what happens, but I’m in a good place. I wish we could’ve kept advancing in the playoffs, but I don’t have no plans of opting out no time soon, neither.

It’s only natural to wonder if James might partner with his best friend and fellow free agent in Paul, and we’ve been wondering for six months or so if that might be the case. But while the Rockets appear resigned to the fact that James won’t be coming their way, they also remain fully confident that Paul is going nowhere. When Paul pushed his way from the Clippers to the Rockets via trade last June, there was a mutual understanding about how his next contract would look. It remains to be seen if it comes in the form of a five-year, $205 million max deal – one that would have him making a whopping $46.7 million in the final year of the deal while nearing the age of 38 – but there remains a strong sense within Rockets circles that he’s staying put.

Chris Broussard: From what I’m told, there is tension now between Houston and Chris Paul. Because there was definitely some type of handshake, wink wink, “we’re going to max you out” last summer. But here’s the thing: Now, they’re not so sure. Houston, with good reason, doesn’t want to do that. But they’ve got an out, because they have new ownership. So, Daryl Morey can go to Chris Paul and be like, “I want to do it, but we’ve got the new owner doesn’t want to give you five years, four years.”

My best forecast at this juncture? Fixate on Chris Paul. If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes a dangerous player, no matter how complicated it would be for the 65-win Rockets and their general manager, Daryl Morey, to orchestrate the requisite salary-cap gymnastics to bring James in. But don’t discount the idea that James could try to bring Paul with him to a team that can afford two superstars, such as the Lakers, because he and Paul really are that close.

Adrian Wojnarowski: “When the Rockets made that deal for Chris Paul, knowing they would re-sign him [once he hit free agency], they made a conscious decision that they were gonna have to live with [paying him] $46, $47 million a year salary when he’s not nearly the player anymore in his late 30s, but, ‘we’re gonna make a run at it now, we wanna win a championship now. We’ll deal with it [Paul’s contract] later.’ We’ll see how that plays out in their contract talks [with Paul] here in free agency. Chris Paul didn’t turn down $200 million from the Clippers because he thought that somehow the Rockets were gonna talk him into saving them luxury tax money. I don’t imagine it playing out that way.”
4 years ago via ESPN

They are underdogs, maybe big ones, but Morey has long promised that he will go for it if he thinks Houston has even a 5 percent chance of winning a ring. He will hunt likely LeBron this summer, per league sources, and hopes to sign Paul to another long-term deal. With Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza headed toward free agency, just bringing this group back could vault Houston well into the luxury tax. Tilman Fertitta, the team’s new owner, has said he would pay the tax to preserve a contender.

As for how Houston could find a way to give max salary contracts starting at $35 million annually to both James (who has a player option worth $35.3 million for next season) and Paul (who will be a free agent) without the necessary cap space, Morey would indeed have to become a salary cap gymnast. The NBA salary cap is expected to be $101 million next season, and the Rockets are, well, capped out. But Morey is one of the league’s renowned risk takers, the kind of relentless executive who might already have hypothetical trades lined up for players like Ryan Anderson and others who would have to go for the Rockets to be able to sign one of the greatest players of all time in James. It’s also seen as possible that, like Kevin Durant did last summer with the Warriors, Paul could take less money to make James’ salary fit.

Chris Paul planning to talk with Rockets, Nuggets?

Paul also has plans to talk with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, one executive said. Griffin can sign a five-year deal worth $175 million with L.A., or sign a four-year deal worth $130 million with another team. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams that will make a bid for Griffin, according to several executives. “West knows he has a big task ahead of him with the Clippers,” one executive said. “But he feels as if Steve Ballmer is going to be one of the great owners in this league.”

The Spurs don’t do Draconian, especially when it involves franchise icons like Parker and Ginobili. Stein reported that his source believes the Spurs are all but guaranteed a face-to-face meeting with Paul, should he become a free agent, but Western Conference basketball management types aren’t losing sleep over the prospect of another conference superteam, this time based in San Antonio. “I think all that talk is nothing more than leverage,” one Western Conference basketball executive said Thursday. “Chris is just trying to make sure he can leverage Doc (Rivers). “If you’re the Clippers, don’t you have some reservations about giving him that big commitment? I know I would. So, if you’re Chris, you’ve got to create some interest out there in the league that then puts pressure on your own people to give you what you want.”
4 years ago via ESPN

All-Star point guard Chris Paul intends to give the San Antonio Spurs serious consideration in free agency this summer in the event he decides to leave the LA Clippers, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN that Paul, for all of his undeniable fondness for Los Angeles, is intrigued by the idea of teaming up with the likes of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Most Valuable Player top-three finalist Kawhi Leonard in his quest to achieve the deep playoff success that has eluded Paul to this point in his career.

“Not that I see,” Wojnarowski said of Paul’s chances of ending up with the Spurs. “I don’t know where that came from. I’ve spent a lot of time around the Spurs this spring. They would have to just tear up that entire payroll. It’s almost unlike anything the Spurs would’ve done or would do to even have a chance at him. I mean, they’d have to really gut the roster. And to do that for a 30-plus year old point guard, who has a couple great years left, there’s no question — I think there’s more pressure on the Clippers to have to re-sign him than for the Spurs to turn their whole franchise over to make a run at him.”
4 years ago via ESPN

THE CLIPPERS FACE A RECKONING this summer when Paul, Griffin and Redick enter free agency. Ballmer says the Clippers don’t have any interest at present of blowing it up. “I love those guys, and I want those guys back,” Ballmer says, adding that he’s amenable to swallowing a large luxury-tax bill, which would come due with new contracts for his players. “If we’re in it and we’re playing for a championship, I don’t mind the tax,” Ballmer says.

The 31-year-old Paul and the 28-year-old Griffin will be seeking maximum-salary contracts, deals that would respectively start at approximately $35 million and $30 million annually. Redick, the 32-year-old who was recruited by Rivers not long after he arrived from the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2013, is sure to land a massive payday as well. Working projections peg the total at approximately $196 million in all, with $140 million in salaries and $56 million in luxury tax (and Redick, in that scenario, having a starting salary of approximately $18 million).

This summer Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul will both become free agents – and New York can create enough cap space to sign one of them – but the Knicks’ predicament has turned Anthony’s longstanding dream into the pipe variety. Unless he leaves New York. “I don’t know where that would be able to happen. It’s always a dream,” he said. “They’re all in the same boat I’m in. It’s hard to think about something else when Chris is going through his surgery and (Wade) is going through what they’re going through in Chicago. I think it’s hard to start thinking about that at this point right now. I think everybody just needs a break, everybody is waiting for the break to decompress and re-evaluate.”

Still, Rivers realizes those rumors could resurface in February if the Clippers aren’t faring well. No team wants to be put in Oklahoma City’s situation, in which it waits on a player to make a decision at the end of his contract only to be left with no compensation if he goes elsewhere. “Blake and CP are free agents and just like last year, Oklahoma had to deal with that — now it’s our turn,” Rivers said. “It’s been a sense of urgency since we’ve been there, in my opinion. And we haven’t followed through yet, and there’s another sense of urgency here. We’re not the only ones. Everyone has a sense of urgency.”

Jordan said there wasn’t any more urgency to win next season, simply because Paul and Griffin can both become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2017. “They’re both extremely talented players,” Jordan told The Vertical. “I believe whatever decision they make is going to be a great decision. I’m not worried about it right now. I don’t expect it to be a distraction during the season. I can’t speak for them, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to make the best decision for themselves and their families. Whatever happens, happens.”
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