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RUMOR: Kawhi Leonard recruiting Chris Paul to Clippers amid trade rumors

Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Clippers

The pursuit of Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Chris Paul is heading to another level. After news that the Phoenix Suns have been in serious trade talks to acquire Paul, more teams have reportedly been introduced in talks for the 10-time NBA All-Star. Namely, the LA Clippers.

The LA Clippers’ interest in a reunion with Chris Paul is there, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Every team in contention or on the cusp will want him. According to Ryen Russillo, there’s mutual interest in a reunion, but it’ll be very complicated to get done.

What’s more is that Clippers’ star Kawhi Leonard has reportedly reached out to Paul and is recruiting him to join his former team. Via the Ryen Russillo podcast, h/t @LAClippersFilm:

“The Clippers definitely interested in Chris Paul,” says Russillo. “The math doesn’t really make any sense and Paul has basically told any of the teams that are interested in trading for him, ‘hey, I don’t want you trading your player for me. I want to just come and join you,’ but that’s really hard when you’re making over $40 million a year and another year for $40 million plus for next year. So Paul’s not taking any kind of buyout for Oklahoma City to then try and make up the money somewhere else because I don’t know that the buyout would make a ton of sense for anybody involved, even if the buyout were really high and then Paul went ahead and made extra money.

“Here’s something that did surprise me because it just feels like Kawhi is this distant, mythological creature that doesn’t talk with anybody. Apparently, Kawhi reached out to Chris Paul immediately and was like, ‘hey, you should come here.’ So that part is real, the pursuit is real, the interest and the math on it from Paul’s standpoint doesn’t seem to be all that realistic.”

Chris Paul is owed $41,358,814 for the 2020-21 season and has a player option for the 2021-22 season worth $44,211,146. With the NBA’s uncertain future thanks to the coronavirus, there’s no chance Chris Paul is opting out of the $44.2 million season.

The Clippers, on the other hand, have some pieces they can work with, but would have to give up a lot just to make the money match. A starting point would have to include one of their two promising young players in Ivica Zubac or Landry Shamet. In addition, they’ve also got the free agencies of Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, and JaMychal Green to navigate through. Unless a third or even fourth team gets involved, adding Paul to the Clippers would require a significant gutting of the current roster.

Kawhi Leonard being named is immediately interesting as he’s not someone known to do any recruiting, especially not publicly. After a down year where LA fell short of its goal, however, Leonard only wants one thing: to win. If bringing Chris Paul into the mix gets them one step closer, you can be sure the Clippers will do whatever they can to bring Paul back without decimating their roster and any flexibility they have remaining.

After talks began of his production and health falling off a cliff, Chris Paul reinvigorated himself this season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He played 70 of a possible 72 regular season games and put forth fantastic playoff performances that nearly allowed the Thunder to upset the heavy favorite Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Paul averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game for the Thunder on 49 percent shooting from the field and 36.5 percent from beyond the arc.