Given his age, Chris Paul might not be the No. 1 free agent target available during the 2017 NBA offseason. However, no available free agent is a more valuable player than Paul in the short term, and that makes his pending decision all the more interesting. In recent days, the San Antonio Spurs have emerged as a prominent thought-exercise in terms of Paul’s next landing spot, in part because they could provide a better chance to claim a championship than his current situation in Los Angeles.
Now, a report has emerged that the Clippers might actually have reason to fear an exit from their best player.
The tidbit of information about San Antonio’s lack of cap space is an important one, simply because the Spurs would have to engage in some heavy salary cap shifting in order to create room for Paul’s presumptive max contract. In the same breath, the Clippers can offer a five-year contract (with larger annual raises) that no other team can match, and Paul directly empowered himself to sign such a deal through his position as president of the NBPA.
In a practical sense, the Spurs would likely need a commitment (even of a verbal variety) from Paul before executing the moves necessary to pave the way for his arrival. That is always a perilous set-up, though, as other NBA teams may be needed in order to complete trades, and they would likely hold additional leverage under such an arrangement.
Unless Chris Paul decides he wants to go to San Antonio while leaving a lot of money on the table, the Clippers have no reason to fear. Paul does profile as a player who might want to prioritize a championship, however, and his presence alongside Kawhi Leonard and Gregg Popovich likely would provide that in a stronger way than simply running it back in Los Angeles. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks for both franchises.