The latest news surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans and its megastar, Zion Williamson, isn't the most positive; while Williamson can do whatever he so pleases in his free time, his involvement in a nasty interpersonal entanglement with an adult star does not paint him in the best of lights.
Amid all the Williamson hullabaloo, however, it was the Phoenix Suns who stole the most headlines on Wednesday; while nothing is final as of yet, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported that the Suns plan to waive future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul, essentially declaring their intent to bite the bullet on his $15.8 million guarantee for next year and hoping that he re-signs with the team for cheap.
Given Paul's working relationship with the likes of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, there remains a strong possibility that the nine-time All-Star returns to the Valley. However, with the world in the 38-year old floor general's fingertips, he could very well decide to jump ship. The Los Angeles Lakers, in fact, have emerged as the favorite for his services in light of this recent development.
Nevertheless, nothing is a foregone conclusion. Other unheralded teams could very well try their luck when it comes to convincing Chris Paul to join their squad. And for the Pelicans, they might as well try.
There are no questions about it — the Pelicans are a playoff-caliber team when healthy. But that has been the big issue, especially with Zion Williamson. Chris Paul won't help matters at all in that regard, but he could help add backcourt depth for a team that has been stuck with poor luck over the past few years.
Beyond that however, here is why a return for CP3 to the Big Easy would be strong fit for the Pelicans.
Why Chris Paul is a strong fit for Pelicans alongside Zion Williamson
For the past one and a half seasons, the Pelicans have relied on CJ McCollum to be the team's lead ballhandler. McCollum has spent most of his years functioning more as a secondary playmaker to Damian Lillard, so this was a brand new role for the combo guard. And yet McCollum's addition helped the Pelicans immensely; his ability to create shots usually opens up scoring opportunities for his teammates.
But a pure point guard, McCollum is not. At heart, he remains a gunner. He averaged around 18 shots per game last season, ranking second in the team in shot attempts.
That in and of itself isn't bad; but perhaps with Brandon Ingram ready to take on a heavier ballhandling workload, could going another direction at the point be a shrewd move?
Chris Paul, for all his faults, remains one of the most composed point guards in the NBA. He never panics, and he is always looking for ways to control the tempo of the game.
The Pelicans ranked 18th in pace last season; if Zion Williamson is healthy, they might very well flourish in a more up-tempo system. Trey Murphy III as well as Brandon Ingram should excel in that system as well. Taking that into consideration, Paul may not be the best fit — at first glance.
But in units without Williamson — which should happen often, given his injury tendency — Paul should help the Pelicans excel in the halfcourt. Paul has also brought out the best in a lot of big men across multiple stops, so perhaps he could do the same in a fruitful partnership with Jonas Valanciunas.
The Pelicans, at the moment, have three other options at the point other than McCollum: Jose Alvarado, Dyson Daniels, and Kira Lewis Jr. Alvarado is often injured, Daniels looks more of a secondary playmaker whose best asset is his defense, while Lewis has lagged behind in his development due to injuries.
Chris Paul is a definite upgrade over those three, especially as a playmaker, and the intangibles he provides is only the cherry on top. The leadership he can provide to a young Pelicans team should help them immensely; CP3 helped the Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns (mostly) overachieve in the past few years.
Paul could teach Jose Alvarado a lot of his tricks; Alvarado, as it is, has a lot of chicanery in his game already, but there might not be a player more well-versed in that art than CP3.
Chris Paul and Willie Green have a strong relationship as well; the two played together in both New Orleans and Los Angeles, and they have remained in touch even as the years have gone by.
In the end, a long overdue move to the Lakers may be the endgame for Paul. But the Pelicans can't afford to strike out looking on their former franchise star if the Suns finalize their release of the “Point God”.