Chris Paul is expected to opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers that would pay him approximately 24.3 million dollars next season. Paul, if he opted out, is eligible to receive a maximum contract worth 205 million dollars over 5 years (41 mil a year) from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers have struggled mightily in the playoffs, which has had to due with unfortunate injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in 2016, and Blake Griffin again in the first round versus the Jazz. The Clippers’ lack of success in the playoffs may cause Paul to leave for a more championship caliber team like San Antonio or Cleveland that may give him a better chance at getting a ring, even if it means giving up money to do so.
The maximum deal that Chris Paul could sign with another team is 4 years and 152 million dollars, which is 53 million dollars less than the deal he could sign with the Clippers. At age 32, this is probably Paul’s last big deal, so unless Paul really wants a ring, the extra year and money the Clippers can offer would be big for Paul. Paul averaged 18 points per game and 9 assists per game this season and shot a career high 41% from behind the arc this year. There’s a strong chance Paul will re-sign with LA due to the extra 53 million dollars and year they can offer, but if Paul, who hasn’t won a ring, wants to ring-chase, there’s only one team that makes since for Paul to sign with this offseason.
There’s only a few teams that are in a better position to wing a ring than the Clippers. The Clippers have Jamaal Crawford and Deandre Jordan under contract and are likely to re-sign Blake Griffin. If they choose to not re-sign Griffin, they will have cap space for another free agent, and LA is a prime spot for free agents to sign. Boston isn’t in a much better situation and wouldn’t be worth Paul sacrificing 53 million dollars, Cleveland and Golden State don’t have the cap room, and Toronto, Washington, and Houston all have all-star point guards.
Then there’s the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs, including Pau Gasol’s player option at 16 million and Tony Parker’s guaranteed 15 million for next year, are right at the cap limit. In order to fit Paul into the Spurs’ payroll, both Parker and Gasol would have to take massive pay cuts. That would leave the Spurs no cap room remaining, but due to CBA rules, they can go over the cap re-signing one of their own players (Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, or Jonathan Simmons). If Paul was going for the ring, he would have to take a pay cut depending on the cuts that Parker and Gasol take.
It doesn’t make much sense for Paul to leave the Clippers. But, if he chooses to walk, the Spurs seem like the most logical team to pick him up in free agency, but he would have to take even less than what the maximum offer the Spurs could offer him (152 million over 4 years) to fit into the San Antonio payroll. A lineup of Chris Paul, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, and Lamarcus Aldridge would certainly be a good lineup, but it might not be worth the massive pay cut he would have to take to become a Spur.