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Chris Paul Free Agency Rumors: Latest Rumors on Clippers, Rockets and More

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2013

Chris Paul Free Agency Rumors: Latest Rumors on Clippers, Rockets and More

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    Even while playing during the NBA's golden age of point guards, Los Angeles Clippers free agent Chris Paul has separated himself from the rest of the floor generals.

    Although lacking in postseason success, his individual resume highlights his supremacy at the position. He's been an All-Star in six of his eight seasons in the league and named to five All-NBA and All-Defensive teams.

    So why has his name failed to create the same frenzy as Los Angeles Lakers big man and fellow free agent Dwight Howard? Because there's always been an assumption that Paul isn't going anywhere this summer.

    Paul confirmed on Twitter that he is going to re-sign with the Clippers on Monday, July 1.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    According to ESPN, Paul is expected to agree to a five-year, $107 million deal with the Clippers at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1. Thanks to the team's acquisition of Doc Rivers, Paul's return was all but certain.

    ESPN's Chris Broussard reports Paul will make it official on July 1 that he's re-signing with the Clippers, as we all expected.

    Paul confirmed on Twitter on July 1 that he's re-signing with the team.

     

    What's In It for CP3

    You mean besides the extra cash and additional year of security? Well, a lot of things actually.

    He's essentially operated as a player/general manager since his 2011 arrival. According to HoopsHype.com, it is as one Clippers front office member put it, "This is Chris' roster." He's not just giving the final approval on potential additions, he's hand-picking guys that he wants to play with.

    And if you believe Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Paul's had equal influence over the team's coaching decisions.

    He's like a captain at a playground pickup game, only he's assembling his team from an exclusive collection of some of the world's greatest athletes. How many players wouldn't want to have that kind of say in their team's makeup?

    Throw in the fact that L.A.'s a premier market that has opened up countless marketing opportunities—trust me, he never meets twin brother Cliff if he's still in New Orleans—and is a city that he reportedly likes living in, and you start to understand why so many people are convinced that he'll stay.

     

    How It Would Get Done

    As Paul's most recent employer, the Clippers can surpass the league's soft salary cap to re-sign the perennial All-Star. L.A. can offer him a five-year contract worth up to $107 million, one year longer and $28 million more than what other teams can offer him.

     

    Projected Starting Five

    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: Jamal Crawford

    SF: Caron Butler

    PF: Blake Griffin

    C: DeAndre Jordan

     

    Stay Or Go?

    Even with the potential for disaster (something he can't get away from regardless of where he signs), it still seems to be in Paul's best interest to stay put.

    He's got the coach he wants, a young roster around him and the hefty contract a player of his caliber deserves. He's staying put.

Dallas Mavericks

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    ESPNDallas.com's Tim McMahon reports that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn't planning on limiting himself to one superstar acquisition this summer; he has his eyes set on both Paul and Howard.

    And Cuban's sales pitch to make that happen? Not far off from what L.A.'s been feeding Paul for two years.

    "In essence, you get to come in and, it's you and we have room for two more max free agents (next year)," Cuban said. "The reality is you're going to work with us and Dirk (Nowitzki) to get out there and pick your team."

     

    What's In It for CP3

    Paul's going to be leaving money on the table if he goes to any team other than the Clippers, but the financial hit he'd take in Dallas wouldn't be quite as drastic. He'd still be limited in terms of years (four) and dollars ($80 million), but he could recoup some of those losses in a state that has no state income tax and no millionaire tax.

    Cuban's deep pockets won't just be used as a negotiating ploy for Paul, but they could also combine with the point guard's arrival to form one heck of a bargaining chip. And even if Howard declines Dallas' offer, Paul and Cuban can attack the 2014 free-agent market after Nowtizki's promised "significant pay cut."

    Paul would also be joining a franchise just two years removed from a championship season, with the same star player (Nowitzki) and the same head coach (Rick Carlisle) that keyed the title run.


    How It Would Get Done

    The Mavericks currently have a little more than $37 million in guaranteed salary for next season, meaning they might have enough to sign Paul outright depending on where the league places its salary cap.

    But Dallas would rather bring him on through a sign-and-trade deal which would eliminate any cap concerns in the acquisition. If that doesn't work, the Mavericks might need to trade one of their guaranteed contracts to free up enough financial space.

     

    Projected Starting Five

    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: Vince Carter*

    SF: Shawn Marion

    PF: Dirk Nowitzki

    C: Chris Kaman

    *Since he's one of the few Dallas players with a guaranteed contract for next season, Carter gets this spot for now. But the Mavericks could bring in a talented free agent (Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis perhaps) or re-sign O.J. Mayo if they tie their financial futures to both Paul and Howard.

     

    Stay Or Go?

    While the Mavericks might have a better chance to land Paul than most media members are giving them credit for, there are still legitimate reasons why those analysts have their doubts about this actually taking place.

    Paul would be taking a gigantic leap of faith by joining Dallas if Howard's not there to sign with him. Nowitzki, Carter and Marion are all playing in their twilight years, and sophomores-to-be Jae Crowder and Jared Cunningham are far from proven commodities.

    So expect Paul to listen to whatever Cuban has to say, but also expect him to enter that meeting with serious reservations. 

Houston Rockets

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    Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston Rockets plans to pursue Paul when the free-agent market opens on July 1.

    And, to continue a common theme here, the Rockets have entertained thoughts of adding both Paul and Howard to next year's roster. With first-time All-Star James Harden already on the roster, Houston's star-gazing general manager Daryl Morey could be on the cusp of forming the league's next superpower.

     

    What's In It for CP3

    Unlike Paul's other outside suitors, the Rockets wouldn't need a commitment from Howard to entice Paul. With players like Harden, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, Houston has one of the most exciting, young rosters in the league.

    Paul has never shared a backcourt with a consistent offensive threat like Harden. The prospect of not always being the focus of an opposing defense has to be at least intriguing. Paul spent extensive floor time with a pair of point guards in L.A. this season (Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe), so Harden's ball-dominant moments shouldn't be an issue.

    Houston has the same tax breaks as Dallas, and with some savvy economic maneuvers could still find a way to pair Howard and Paul alongside another All-Star just scratching the surface of his potential.


    How It Would Get Done

    By declining the contract options on veterans Francisco Garcia, Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, the Rockets have the cap space to sign Paul outright. 

     

    Projected Starting Five

    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: James Harden

    SF: Chandler Parsons

    PF: Greg Smith

    C: Omer Asik

     

    Stay Or Go?

    Houston's overtures won't be easy for Paul to ignore. The roster is young, deep and incredibly versatile, and coach Kevin McHale could fine-tune his rotations to maximize Paul's effectiveness.

    And the roster could look drastically different before next season tips off. Morey's days of collecting youthful talent are reportedly over, as Houston's looking to cash in on that potential and turn those players into productive veterans.

    But again, there are a lot of unknowns for Paul to process. Odds are he still prefers the comforts (and fortunes) of his current home.

Atlanta Hawks

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    If the Howard and Paul talks are getting nauseating at this point, there are two people to blame for that: Howard and Paul. The pair have been reportedly in constant contact about joining forces this offseason.

    And ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reports that Howard's hometown Atlanta Hawks could make those dreams a reality. While perhaps a long shot, the possibility was great enough that one ticket sales rep specifically mentioned both players in a letter to season-ticket holders, which subsequently earned the franchise a fine for tampering.

     

    What's In It for CP3

    Neither Howard nor Paul is particularly enamored with the Hawks, but no franchise can facilitate this superstar pairing as easily as Atlanta.

    General manager Danny Ferry has essentially wiped the slate clean since landing in the ATL last summer. Only three players are officially on next season's roster, and all three could mesh well with this potentially dynamic duo.

    Al Horford will help relieve some of the post pressure off of Howard. Louis Williams can score points in bunches and can create his own looks when the offense breaks down. John Jenkins needed all of one NBA season to establish himself as a reliable floor spacer (38.4 three-point percentage).

     

    How It Would Get Done

    The Hawks have enough cap space to sign both Paul and Howard to max contracts.

     

    Projected Starting Five

    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: John Jenkins

    SF: Kyle Korver

    PF: Al Horford

    C: Dwight Howard*

    *If Paul doesn't need Howard to come to Atlanta, the Hawks could potentially keep Horford at center and re-sign free-agent forward Josh Smith to a less expensive contract.

     

    Stay Or Go?

    It probably says enough that the Hawks aren't seen as the odds-on favorites to land these two All-Stars. If Paul and Howard want to play together as badly as reports suggest, why are they not running to the team that can sign both without needing to make any precursory deals?

    Either one of these players (or both) has reservations about the prospect of playing together, or both hold Atlanta in such low regard that they'll extinguish all other possibilities before seriously considering it as a landing point. No matter how you slice it, that's bad news for the Hawks.

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