Chris Paul will be the most coveted NBA free agent* when the clock strikes July 1st, and after LA collapsed in the first round of the playoffs – despite leading 2-0, with homecourt advantage – you’ve got to wonder if he’ll want to return to a Vinny Del Negro-coached Clippers team.
Thing is, even if they move on from Vinny, what can the Clippers do to improve the roster and entice CP3? Before you attempt to concoct some trades that will never happen, take a look at the salary cap situation: Jordan and Griffin are locked into long-term deals, and the window on anything Bynum-related has closed given his injuries. Josh Smith in a sign-and-trade? Tyreke Evans? I have no idea. I just don’t see anything creative the Clippers can pull off. Not to mention, the new CBA makes it far more lucrative for players to stay with his team. Is Chris Paul leaving as much as $27 million on the table? He turns 28 today, and for a guy with a history of bad knees, this could be his last big contract.
So. My options for CP3:
A. Stay with the Clippers, grudgingly. If he does this, it probably means he’ll never reach the Finals as a star. Maybe later in his career as a veteran reserve.
B. Bizarre trade with the Celtics, who decide to press the reset button and deal Rondo (who is coming off an ACL) and spare parts. Would LA even do that?
C. New York. The Pipe Dream is on life support, and here’s a possibility: Camby, Felton, Kidd, Novak and Shumpert for CP3. But why would LA do that?
D. Houston. The Rockets signed Jeremy Lin last summer, but CP3 would obviously be a massive upgrade. Could creative Houston package Lin and others. A CP3-Harden backcourt? Yes, please.
E. The Dallas Mavericks, who are in the lottery, have a terrible roster and will have cap room. Weee!
So Chris Paul is probably staying with the Clippers, right? Oh, I almost forgot – the Bobcats have a shot! Or something.
* The reason it’s not Dwight Howard? He’s not leaving the Lakers. Also, Andrew Bynum hasn’t played in over a year. Josh Smith? Please.