Chris Paul is likely to face a decision this summer between seriously pursuing a title and securing what could be his last massive contract.
The point guard has been linked to the San Antonio Spurs and according to ESPN, the franchise is exploring the possibility of pursuing the soon-to-be free agent.
Paul is technically still under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, but has long been expected to exercise the early termination option in his deal to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Though the Spurs are currently strapped for cap space, the Clippers view them as a legitimate threat to sign away the nine-time All-Star, according to the report.
Los Angeles hold the high ground for offering Paul the most money, with the 32-year-old eligible for a five-year, $205 million contract. That type of money is only available to Paul because, as the president of the Players Association, he fought to change the NBA’s 36-and-over rule (which prohibited players from signing a five-year max deal if their 36th birthday fell during the contract) to 38-and-under.
At 32, Paul stands to reap the benefits of the rule change by locking down the mega deal which only the Clippers can offer. It’s a sizeable advantage in Los Angeles’ favour and Clippers coach Doc Rivers didn’t appear concerned when he told TMZ Sports Paul “absolutely” will be staying.
San Antonio, meanwhile, would have to renounce rights to their free agents and likely trade away salary to open max cap room to offer Paul four years and $152m.
However, the Spurs can offer Paul a chance to do something he’s yet to achieve in his Hall of Fame career: reach the Western Conference Finals and potentially even win a title.
Paul could fill the void of longtime point guard Tony Parker, who at 35 and fresh off a ruptured quadriceps tendon injury, is a major question mark going forward. With MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard and Gregg Popovich, widely considered the top coach in the league, Paul would have the chance to add the missing piece to his stellar career.
There’s a reason why the phrase is called ‘chasing ghosts’. There’s either nothing there to chase or it’s a pursuit that’s simply impossible.
For the longest time, that’s what it felt like for anyone who ever played in the shadow of Michael Jordan. He set the standard, but placed the bar so high that no matter the ambition of players who followed him, it just wasn’t possible to come all that close.
That is, until now.
LeBron James has a laundry list of incredible feats and achievements on a basketball court, but his greatest accomplishment may very well end up being snatching away the title of GOAT (Greatest of All Time) from Jordan.
And while it would seem only fair to wait until LeBron’s career is all said and done for a legitimate claim to be made, he has the chance to bypass that waiting period and seize the throne now if – and this is a big ‘if’ – he wins another championship in a few weeks time.
Call it ‘recency bias’ if you want, but just know it has a cousin called ‘nostalgia bias’ and we often fall victim to that, especially when it comes to Jordan’s legacy. There’s no doubt the Chicago Bulls legend stands alone at the top of the game’s pantheon, yet this is less about picking Mike apart than it is about recognising equally overarching greatness in LeBron.
James isn’t there yet, but if he pulls this off – beating the Golden State Warriors again – there will be no further reason to deny him. A fourth ring would still put LeBron behind Jordan’s six, but the strength of what would be his last two would be enough to surpass Jordan.
LeBron has already won one for his beloved home and that too in improbable fashion by historically overcoming a 3-1 Finals deficit to defeat the greatest regular-season team ever. If that was a storybook ending, then repeating would be like the typical superhero sequel in which instead of saving just a city, he saves the world. The villains from the original movie? They’re now more powerful and have a new weapon in Kevin Durant that makes them pretty much unstoppable. If anyone can do it though, it’s LeBron.
The ‘rangzzz’ argument should never be the hill people choose to die on, but in this case, it isn’t about quantity of titles, rather quality. You can only beat what’s in front of you and Jordan did that. If LeBron does it in these Finals, he may as well be a Ghostbuster.
Cleveland Cavaliers begin the defence of their NBA crown at the Oracle Arena on Thursday in a dream repeat of last year’s finals, which saw the Cavs clinch the title against the Warriors.
The Cavaliers will arrive in California firing on all cylinders, with their dynamic duo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving all fit and ready as they bid to win back-to-back titles.
The Warriors, meanwhile, are in sensational form after dominating the San Antonio Spurs to win the Western Conference Finals 4-0.
Check out the schedule and TV below.
Thursday, June 1: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 5AM
Sunday, June 4: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors– 4AM
Wednesday, June 7: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5AM
Friday, June 9: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5AM
Monday, June 12: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 5AM
Thursday, June 15: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5AM
Sunday, June 18: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 4AM