Posted on May 25, 2017, by Travis Pulver
This is the time of year where NBA fan and media types get to engage in one of the most interesting and entertaining aspects of professional sports—the rumor mill. Someone, somewhere talked to someone on the condition of anonymity–so the information gets shared but can’t be confirmed.
That does stop it from being shared to the point that it eventually becomes front page news.
Why? Easy—because if it is interesting enough and compelling, we want to treat it as truth until we have reason to think differently. With the season recently coming to an unceremonious end for the San Antonio Spurs, it stands to reason that some juicy gossip would spring up about them.
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How juicy? Try Chris Paul being interested in joining the Spurs and the Spurs interested in acquiring him.
Really? Could it happen?
San Antonio has been better at transitioning from older veteran talent to younger players better than anyone in recent years. While some fans may not want to admit it, chances are good Tony Parker may not be with the team much longer.
Parker is 35 and saw his season end due to an injury this year. His minutes have gone down in each of the last five seasons (including this year), and his production has been cut in half (20.3 points/game in 2012-13 to 10.1 points/game this season). Fans may hate to admit it, but his time is close to coming to an end.
But he looked great in the postseason. That is until he was lost to a season-ending injury.
Could he play on next season? Will he? Probably—but like Manu Ginobili this season, he’ll likely need his minutes to be reduced even further for him to be at his best. As the roster stands, they should be just fine. Patty Mills is a talented and experienced player, and Dejounte Murray has shown some promise.
So why bother with a guy like Chris Paul? That’s an easy one too—because he is one of the best field generals in the game. While it has been great to see the team groom young players step in when needed, San Antonio wants to win championships like everyone else.
Could they with Patty Mills logging starter minutes? Possibly. But do they want to wait and see if he can fill Tony Parker’s shoes? The team has another generational talent in Kawhi Leonard. Do they want to waste his best years losing in the Western Conference Finals?
Do they want to wait and see if they can build another championship roster or do like most of the NBA and buy one?
San Antonio is not known for going out and spending big money on free agents. LaMarcus Aldridge was a rarity, and he hasn’t exactly been what they hoped he would be. If they were to go after Paul, they would have to pay him well. This season he made over $22 million. With the salary cap exploding in recent year, he stands to command a healthy salary.
Do they really want to go that route again? They would definitely pass the luxury tax threshold (they were $14 million over the cap this season). But doing so would give them an upgrade over Parker and drastically improve the team’s offensive production.
Had Kawhi Leonard not been injured, there is no telling how the Western Conference Finals would have played out. But there is one thing that is likely true—with a guy like Chris Paul on the roster they might have been able to last long enough for Leonard to make it back.
Of course, whether this is going to happen will depend on how much the Spurs offer Paul (assuming they do make a play for him). They will more than likely not offer a max deal due to cap restraints.
So any potential deal will depend on how much less Paul is willing to take to get on a team much more likely to win an NBA title than the Clippers.