Possible landing spots for Chris Paul

Published June 9, 2023, 9:00 PMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

Chris Paul’s future with the Suns is uncertain. Which teams would be a great fit if Phoenix ultimately decides to waive him?

We’ve all seen All-Star level players sign as free agents with new teams. We’ve also seen All-Stars get traded. Some All-Stars also agree to buyouts so they can sign with new teams. But an All-Star getting waived? That’s almost unheard of.

That’s what might happen with Chris Paul. After another disappointing finish to their season, the Phoenix Suns are reportedly set to waive their aging All-Star point guard. 

That move by the team will open up a significant amount of cap space, allowing the team to add several key pieces around Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. 

As for Paul, after spending time on the waiver wire, he becomes an unrestricted free agent who can now sign with any team. Given that he’s out to win a championship before he retires, that limits the teams he’s probably looking at. 

Here are some possible landing spots for the Point God.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns aren’t stupid. They were limited in their options to trade Paul given his massive contract. But they’re not crazy enough to just let him go without getting anything in return. That’s why this move to free up cap space might have been an internal agreement between the team and Paul.

Once he clears the wire, the Suns can place a claim on Paul, signing him to a more team-friendly contract. That means Phoenix can have their cake and eat it too. They get to keep Paul on their roster while still maintaining the financial flexibility to sign free agents that could answer the problem of roster depth that plagued them in the playoffs.

Waiving Paul was the more direct route to escape the contract rather than having a lengthy buyout negotiation that could have dragged on until the start of free agency. Of course, waiving Paul also brings a risk because any team can now swoop in, regardless of any agreements they might have had before.

LA Lakers

The Lakers are the odds-on favorites to sign Paul. But then again, they’re always in play to sign any big name free agent who hits the market.

Even before the report of CP3 being waived, he’s already been linked to the Lakers as the team’s next point guard. It only makes more sense now after the horrible display of basketball D’Angelo Russell and Dennis Schroder showed in the West Finals.

Paul has shown that even if he’s slowed down significantly, he’s still good for a couple of clutch buckets and several heads-up plays. He may not play the entire season and he might end up missing the end of a playoff run, but right now, he might be the best option that the Lakers have for their next starting PG. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone like LeBron James pulling for you to join his team.

The real question now is how much can the Lakers offer Paul and will they still have a championship-level team after they sign him?

Boston Celtics

Ever since their turnover fest in last year’s NBA Finals, there’s been a clamor for the Celtics to replace Marcus Smart as the starting point guard. This might be their chance.

The Celtics may have Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White on the team, but none of those three are as good a floor leader as Paul. CP3 is a bona fide starting point guard that will remove the burden of playmaking from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (if he stays). The two Jays can focus on what they do best: score.

As for Paul, he gets to join a proven contender in Boston. The Celtics have made the East Finals five out of the last seven seasons, and are only a season removed from making it to the Finals. Paul gets to set the table for a team whose core (again, if they stay together) is only starting to hit its prime. That leaves his window for a championship more open compared to other teams.

Miami Heat

Speaking of proven contenders, Chris Paul has to take note of what the Heat have accomplished this season with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and a bunch of undrafted players. Imagine if someone with his skill joined this team.

Besides the positional fit, Paul will be joining a team where the ball never stops moving. Butler and Adebayo have proven to be capable playmakers, but the rest of the team have bought into the system and are also willing to make the extra pass. That’s a system Paul can not only thrive in but also one where he doesn’t have to carry so much of a playmaking load as well.

The Heat also aren’t a soft team mentally or emotionally. They’re tough as nails and can take a hit from their opponents or their own teammates if needed. Paul fits into a culture like that where he doesn’t have to baby his teammates. He can lead them as a point guard without having to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings.

LA Clippers

Imagine Paul walking into the locker room and the first person he bumps into is Russell Westbrook. Now that’s good social media content right there.

This might be the most awkward fit for Paul. Besides the fact that the Clippers genuinely seem happy to have Westbrook as their starting point guard, there’s also the issue of health. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Chris Paul all finished this season in street clothes and not on the court. What will this team look like in April with all three on the roster?

But, when talking about championship contenders, there’s no denying the talent that the Clippers have on their team. When healthy, they’re a team that can grind down even the best teams out there with their tough defense and suffocating offense. Paul will give them a playmaking boost and another high-efficiency option offensively. Again, the qualifier is, “when healthy.”