Chris Paul's future is still very much up in the air. If the Phoenix Suns ultimately send the future Hall-of-Famer to free agency in one of the most stunning cost-cutting measures in modern league history, though, the Golden State Warriors are apparently one of several teams Paul could have interest in joining.

You don't need additional context from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski to find the common thread between Paul's rumored potential destinations. The 38-year-old clearly wants to play in a big market, combining his quest for an elusive championship ring with the ability to continue fostering off-court endeavors as his career finally reaches its twilight.

The Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers and New York Knicks will all enter next season with at least a puncher's chance at the title. Paul's choice in free agency won't change that, and his positive on-court impact no longer looms large enough to guarantee any of those teams a level up on the rung of contention should he sign there. But the roster composition of Golden State and New York compared to the Lakers and Clippers lay bare where Paul's talents could be used most.

Paul is a minus on-ball defender as his 19th NBA go-around approaches, lacking the length to be disruptive in most help situations. Think Steve Kerr and Tom Thibodeau are smiling at the prospect of inevitably slotting him next to Stephen Curry or Jalen Brunson come the 2024 playoffs? Double-small lineups are meat under the postseason pressure cooker, and committing to them for extended stretches would be the only way Paul garners significant playing time with the Warriors or Knicks when it matters most.

The Lakers and Clippers have gaping holes at point guard in comparison, even accounting for the possibility D'Angelo Russell and Russell Westbrook return to their incumbent teams in free agency. The former Russell, especially, doesn't seem long for Los Angeles after a rough finish to the playoffs, opening the door for Paul to start next to longtime friend LeBron James in purple and gold.

But a better opportunity for playing time, strong personal relationships and close proximity to his family's nearby home in Encino may not be the biggest reasons why the Lakers seem like such strong favorites to land Paul over the Warriors and other teams if he reaches free agency.

Golden State, remember, has no realistic means of avoiding the second luxury tax apron of $179.5 million next season. Even trading Jordan Poole's contract into cap space—surely a non-starter for the Dubs' new front office, and rightfully so—wouldn't get the Warriors below that dreaded line, freeing up the $5 million taxpayer's mid-level exception to add a player on the open market.

Instead, those changes under the new CBA ensure Golden State will be limited to signing outside free agents with minimum contracts.

Paul has already earned over $350 million in his career, with at least $15.8 million more on the way in 2023-24. His NBA contract is hardly Paul's only ultra-lucrative stream of income. He remains one of the most prominent endorsers in pro sports, with a budding array of other big-money projects in media, entertainment and business.

Could all of that mounting generational wealth make Paul amenable to playing on the minimum next season? Maybe. The problem for the Warriors—as well as the similarly cash-strapped Clippers—is that the Lakers should be able to offer Paul the taxpayer's mid-level, and possibly the $12.2 million non-taxpayer's mid-level depending on how much money it takes to bring back Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura in restricted free agency.

Paul would give the Warriors a blend of of table-setting dynamism and stability behind Curry they haven't had since Shaun Livingston was in his prime. He's never played in a read-and-react offense before, but obviously has the court sense and processing speed needed to thrive as a playmaker in Steve Kerr's system. Curry and Paul could play together throughout the regular season, then in select stints versus certain teams and personnel groups in the playoffs. Paul breaks down pretty much every spring; it's unwise to count on him for major minutes anyway.

Still, Golden State's hopes of a fifth Larry O'Brien Trophy in 10 seasons would definitely be rosier if Curry, Draymond Green and Steve Kerr somehow convinced Paul to sign in the Bay on the cheap. With more money and a more prominent role available in Los Angeles, though, the chances of Paul suiting up for the Warriors next season don't seem much different now than they did before his status with the Suns suddenly became uncertain.