Think the Golden State Warriors are an unbeatable juggernaut destined to win five straight Western Conference titles? Maybe slow your roll.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the San Antonio Spurs are seriously considering a run at free-agent-to-be point guard Chris Paul. The Los Angeles Clippers, Paul’s current team, reportedly “regard the threat of San Antonio signing away Paul as a legitimate concern.”
If the Spurs sign Paul, they’d have two of the top 10 player in the NBA in Paul and Kawhi Leonard, plus 5-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and one of the greatest coaches of all-time in Gregg Popovich. Given that San Antonio won 61 games in 2016-17 and reached the Western Conference Finals with a greatly diminished Tony Parker running point, the thought of them adding Paul should terrify every NBA contender—even the Warriors.
Of course, Paul is not a Spur quite yet, and if Popovich, R.C. Buford and company really wants to bring him, they’ll need to engage in some serious salary-cap gymnastics. Via to ESPN:
Even if the Spurs renounce the rights to looming free agents Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Jonathon Simmons as well as potential free agents Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee, they would still face complicated decisions on San Antonio mainstay Tony Parker and possibly both Pau Gasol and Danny Green.
Basically, San Antonio would have to sacrifice its entire bench in order to have enough money for Paul. But given how easily the Spurs seem to discover and develop anonymous players who can capably fill key roles, they might not have too hard a time replacing the depth they’d have to let go of. If they could pull Simmons and Dedmon out of a hat once, maybe they can do it again.
Paul may be worth it. He’s a nine-time All-Star, a future Hall of Famer and, by some measures, one of the best point guards of all time. Even in a down year, he averaged 18.1 points and 9. 2 assists per game in 2016-17.
All Paul’s career is missing, quite famously, is a trip to the conference finals, and a chance to end that streak with San Antonio might be tempting. By pretty much any criteria you can come up with, Paul is the best ever player to never reach even the NBA’s penultimate round, a designation he can’t be anxious to hold onto.
Adding Paul probably wouldn’t make the Spurs title favorites, but it would definitely elevate San Antonio to status as the NBA’s third “super-team,” within easy striking distance of the Warriors and Cavaliers.
If this happens—and it’s still a long way away—the league had better watch out.