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Chris Paul Decision: Which Is More Needed Now, Rings or Money?

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Chris Paul is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract with the LA Clippers, worth $24.26 million. Considering the context of the CBA and the increase to the salary cap, this is a smart move for him, as he stands to make substantially more. What Paul chooses to do next, however, is anyone’s guess. And I do mean, everyone seems to have their guess as to what he will decide.

Throughout the season, it was rumored, and almost assumed, that the 32 year old veteran point guard would re-sign with the Clippers, who will likely offer him the max of 5 years, $205 million. Due to the DVPE (Designated Veteran Player Exception) clause of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the Clippers potential to offer far exceeds what any other team will be able to give Paul this summer. But as the Clippers fell apart, figuratively and literally, once again in the playoffs, staying in LA may no longer be the most attractive option.

I’m not part of the camp that believes championships are the only validation for greatness. Paul is the best point guard of my lifetime, and the second greatest all time behind only Magic Johnson. There are others who can certainly be debated, but I do firmly believe those two reign supreme.

Still, the allure of winning a championship undoubtedly weighs on a player’s mind. We see it all the time, especially with veterans. Just look at one of Paul’s former teammate in New Orleans. David West has signed with San Antonio and Golden State in back to back offseasons trying to chase that elusive championship before his career his over. And who could blame him! Everybody loves winning.

The decision for  Paul will boil down to just how much he values chasing that ring versus getting that money. And whether or not he believes any other team can legitimately give him a better shot at a championship than the Clippers can. Under the DPVE, L.A. can offer roughly $50 million more than any competitor, plus a fifth guaranteed year. He will likely be choosing between 5 years/$205 million with the Clippers, or 4 years/$150 million somewhere else.

One possible landing spot for Paul, that has been theorized for some time, is with the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Gregg Popovich is not one to strongly pursue and attempt to woo potential free agents. In fact, until they signed LaMarcus Aldridge two years ago, San Antonio had historically avoided pursuit of high-priced free agents. However, as reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, there is said to be a strong mutual interest between the two sides.

Paul is an immediate upgrade over the aging Tony Parker, who could thrive in a bench role if Patty Mills is not retained this summer. It is also assumed that Manu Ginobili will ultimately wind up retiring this offseason, helping to free up some cap space for the Spurs to make room for a max offer to CP3. The question for San Antonio will be whether to spend all that money on Paul, or divide it to retain key role players Jonathan Simmons and Patty Mills. They may also need to move Pau Gasol to be able to make a max contract feasible.

Personally, I believe the best course of action for the Spurs is to do whatever they have to do to bring in the “Point God”  Paul. Not only can he help them to compete with and challenge Golden State for Western Conference supremacy, pairing with Kawhi Leonard to be arguably the best defensive 1-2 punch in the league. His veteran presence could also be an enormous help for the young point guard, Dejounte Murray, whom San Antonio’s front office believes will be a big part of their organization’s future.

If, and when,  Paul does opt out of his final year with the Clippers, there will likely be other suitors for his services as well. But none provide the opportunity for success of either the Spurs or Clippers. If both teams offer, Paul will have an interesting decision to make. A decision that could drastically change the landscape of the Western Conference. Granted, the Spurs already sit firmly among the league’s best, but Paul’s departure could decimate the Clippers.

Will Blake Griffin choose to remain in L.A. for the additional money they can offer; or, without Paul, will he also choose to go elsewhere to pursue a championship? A lot could change, or both players could decide to maintain the status quo and give this Clippers’ core another shot at breaking through. Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more as the offseason approaches!

About Preston Dubey

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