Chris Paul has been one of the best point guards in the NBA for quite some time now and at 35 years old, that is not changing. His worth is unquestioned and it shows when any team he is on immediately becomes postseason contenders. That is the case once again for the Phoenix Suns this season.
Paul was sent to the Suns from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason. Phoenix entered the NBA bubble at the end of last season and won all eight preliminary games. They still were unable to qualify for the postseason. This led the front office to search for a blockbuster deal in hopes of adding another superstar next to Devin Booker. This is where Paul was added and it is paying off right away.
The Suns are currently 42-16 and in second place in the Western Conference behind only the Utah Jazz. Phoenix is looking like contenders in the league and the arrival of Paul is the reason. He is a true floor general and a point guard that acts as a coach on the floor.
He is averaging 15.9 points and 8.8 assists per game this season. Once this year is complete, Paul has a player option for next season. It is hard to imagine he opts out, especially when he is owed upwards of $44 million, but we have seen crazier things happen.
If Paul does opt out and tests NBA free agency, there will be countless teams interested. It is safe to say that all teams in the league would welcome a guard like Paul so it all comes down to cap space. Here are three teams that could try to persuade Paul to come to town.
Los Angeles Lakers
Chris Paul to L.A. Pt. II? It has been 10 years since the league shutdown a deal that would have teamed up Paul with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. History could repeat itself and we could finally see Paul land in a Lakers’ uniform. There are plenty of benefits here for both sides.
First, it has been known for years that Chris Paul and LeBron James are close friends. They have never played on the same team together and we could see that finally happen in the offseason. The Lakers made a deal for Dennis Schroder in the offseason. He was offered a four-year, $85 million contract extension but turned it down.
Schroder and the Lakers are apparently far off on a deal which means he will be searching for more money in NBA free agency. This leaves a hole at the top of the offense for a team looking to become the next great dynasty. Paul would only help them continue to win. The Lakers are currently fifth in the Western Conference because of injuries to James and Anthony Davis.
When healthy, the Lakers are the top team in the game. They are still the team to beat once the postseason comes around. Chris Paul would give them a big three that would be difficult to takeover. There are connections on and off the court for these two sides to come to an agreement.
Chris Paul going to Dallas would give him the same opportunity that he has in Phoenix. The Mavericks are looking for that other star to help them get to the next level. The Mavericks are already a competitive team at 31-26 in the West. The addition of Paul could help them take that next step.
The Mavericks have been linked to some big-name players, both in NBA free agency and in the trade market. It is not a secret that they are looking for that third leg of a big three. It began when they made a deal for Kristaps Porzingis to pair with Luka Doncic.
A backcourt of Chris Paul and Luka Doncic would immediately turn into the best duo of guards in the league. It makes sense for Dallas to pursue Paul and they will have the cap space. The Mavericks are getting $35 million in space this year which will help their pursuit. Could Paul accept a three-year deal worth $110 million from the Mavericks? This is in the ballpark of what they could offer.
Mark Cuban is no stranger to big moves and this would be one of the biggest possible at this time. The Mavericks are in need of that player to turn them into true championship contenders and there are few better than Paul.
The issue at the moment would be cap space for the Miami Heat, which is obviously the root of this deal. Pat Riley is one of the top front-office minds in the league and would likely find a way to get it done if Chris Paul expressed interest in Miami. The Heat have been attempting to improve the point guard position for years now. This is their chance to land one of the best.
The Miami Heat are beginning to take advantage of a weak Eastern Conference. They are currently 31-28 which is good for seventh place right now. There have been inconsistencies this season but the Heat were aggressive at the trade deadline. They added Victor Oladipo in a deal but he has suffered a knee injury, which leaves his future with the team up in the air.
Oladipo and the Miami Heat were likely to agree to an extension but that could change when knee injuries come into play. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo took the Heat to the NBA Finals a year ago and now Paul could add to it in the offseason.
If there is any chance of Chris Paul landing in Miami, Riley will have to find a way to get it done. There is a chance for a sign-and-trade deal if Paul expresses interest in the Heat. There will be a sweepstakes once the offseason comes around and it is hard to imagine that Miami is not involved.