Chris Paul will make the most of testing the waters of the free agent market and intends to give the San Antonio Spurs some “serious consideration” this summer, according to a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein.
While it had been long-rumored that the L.A. Clippers‘ passing maestro could be in the crosshairs of the Spurs’ front office, it now looks like the interest comes from both parties — making this a much more realistic scenario.
Paul is reportedly intrigued by playing under head coach Gregg Popovich and teaming up with two-time Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard; despite his self-professed love for the city of Los Angeles.
The 6-foot dynamo has now spent six seasons with the franchise and has still been unable to get past the second round, a caveat that has marred his legacy even before become a Clipper.
If San Antonio chooses to pursue him at all costs, the safer scenario would be a sign-and-trade with the Clippers, allowing the team to shed some of its salary cap to make Paul an honest deal.
The Spurs can only offer Paul a four-year, $152 max contract, while the Clippers can offer a whopping five-year, $205 million deal for him to stay.
San Antonio, according to sources, is considered a lock to secure a face-to-face meeting with Paul when free agency begins July 1 — despite that in order to sign him, they’d have to undergo a massive roster overhaul to have a crack at it.
While the moves that San Antonio would have to make to even consider it a possibility are massively risky and completely unlike what general manager R.C. Buford and company have done before, this is also a franchise-changing player that could give the Spurs a leg up on the competition in pursuit of another title.
L.A. remains the favorite to re-sign him due to the $53 million-difference in salary, but also due to all the commercial opportunities Paul has been able to land since arriving at the City of Angels, including most notably a long-standing deal with State Farm.
A source with knowledge of the situation went as far as to say that in terms of interest for San Antonio, “they love him.” If they do to the point of taking action, the Spurs will have to count on the retirement of Manu Ginobili, a swift goodbye to Tony Parker, plus moving the contracts of Pau Gasol, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee and a very promising Jonathon Simmons.