The New Orleans Pelicans are going to act with a sense of urgency this summer according to EVP David Griffin's exit interview. While the front office is looking forward to reshaping the roster around Zion Williamson, some fans are looking backward in time to find the point guard of the future. The franchise wanted Chris Paul in free agency a few years ago but there are a few obstacles in the way of any reunion.

An in-place contract should not be a roadblock, though a Chris Paul retirement announcement is not out of the question. The June 28 deadline for the Golden State Warriors to pick up Chris Paul's $30 million contract option for next season is a mere formality. Golden State can opt-in, costing them almost $20 million in extra luxury tax hits, or let the aging veteran test free agency for $0. The choice is clear for the Warriors, but where does Paul go from here?

There are only so many teams with the need and money, and the future Hall-of-Famer will only want to sign up to join a playoff-caliber squad. Zion Williamson's Pelicans are betting on a few benchmarks already. Can they count on the franchise's best player to come back into the fold?

Chris Paul comes home to the Pelicans

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul (3) passes away from defensive pressure by New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) and guard Dyson Daniels (11) during the fourth quarter at Chase Center.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone loves a feel-good story. A Chris Paul homecoming would bring a storied career full circle. First, consider the historical ties. Chris Paul began his NBA career with the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans) after being drafted fourth overall in 2005. During his six seasons in New Orleans, CP3 established himself as one of the league’s premier point guards and led the team to playoff success.

Paul can still be a near-elite floor general to close games if a team keeps the miles down. There would be no better steward to show Williamson and Daniels how to set the table for others on offense at a high level. Adding the wily 39-year-old's playmaking ability could elevate everyone's production and would also inject a bit more intensity into the locker room.

The Pelicans offered Paul a three-year, $100 million deal a few years ago. New Orleans could now offer a two-year deal at a fraction of the price, with the second season only partially guaranteed, and get the same leadership. The questions about Paul are all about the miles on those near-40 legs. The problem for the Pelicans beyond Paul's future playing ability is the sales pitch.

Lakers need cheap help for LeBron James

Team LeBron forward LeBron James and Chris Paul with Gloria James before the game between Team LeBron and Team Durant during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers if LeBron James re-ups is about the safest, open secret but not exactly solid bet in the NBA Free Agency gambling markets. An old video of new Lakers head coach JJ Redick encouraging a Chris Paul-LeBron James pairing is again making the rounds on social media.

“I feel like, with his level of intelligence and LeBron, his ability to play pick and roll with Anthony Davis,” Redick said. “I just feel like if I'm Chris [Paul] and I'm like, ‘Where gives me the best chance to potentially compete for a championship?' To me, it feels like, next year in particular, it would be more the Lakers…”

The point stands a year later, but there are extra layers to now consider. Paul kept the minutes (26.4 per game) down over 58 appearances last season. Still, he averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 assists per game on 37.1% from three-point range. That kind of production and steady leadership through the dregs of the regular season is worth a look.

However, the Pelicans will likely need to offer more than the $3.4 million vet minimum to land Paul's services for the 2024-25 season. How much more money is needed to have an enticing offer is the likely breaking point in a Chris Paul New Orleans homecoming to close out the career. The Lakers will be able to offer a bigger role if D'Angelo Russell opts out, a more glamorous market, and a chance to finally team up with a friend in LeBron.