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.
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