After yet another early playoff exit, the future of the Los Angeles Clippers is in doubt. Despite Jazz center Rudy Gobert picking up an injury on the first possession of the series, Utah still won their first-round series with the Clippers and won Game 7 in L.A. by 13 points. The last time L.A. bombed out of the playoffs before one of its stars hit free agency, DeAndre Jordan was on the brink of leaving for Dallas before getting pulled back at the last second. This year, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the team’s two foundational players are both free agents.
Paul is 32 now and he’s played six seasons in L.A., the same amount of time he spent in New Orleans. Paul is probably the best point guard of his generation, yet he’s never even made the conference finals. The Clippers have looked nearly unbeatable for long stretches under his reign, and his partnership with Griffin has been dynamite on the court. However, the Clips have blown it year after year, and Paul has only grown increasingly frustrated, to the point that he may actually choose to leave Los Angeles.
The San Antonio Spurs have reportedly been enamored with Paul for months, and according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, that interest is now mutual.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul intends to give the San Antonio Spurs serious consideration in free agency this summer in the event he decides to leave the LA Clippers, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that Paul, for all of his undeniable fondness for Los Angeles, is intrigued by the idea of teaming up with the likes of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and MVP top-three finalist Kawhi Leonard in his quest to achieve the deep playoff success that has eluded Paul to this point in his career.
With Tony Parker facing a long rehab process to recover from a nasty quad injury, Paul would be a good on-court fit for San Antonio. He has the right demeanor for a Gregg Popovich team and he’s tough on defense. The Spurs would need to shed salary in order to sign him, which would mean sacrificing some depth. They’d probably leap at the chance, but Paul still can get more money if he stays in L.A., and Griffin’s decision will play into the salary cap math as well.
Griffin and Paul have shown that they win oodles of games together, and the Clippers’ starting lineup is a fearsome group. But Doc Rivers is not much of a GM, and if Griffin and Paul both re-signed, there wouldn’t be much of Steve Ballmer’s money left to spend on the complementary pieces that the team so desperately needs. Free agency doesn’t start for another month, but Paul’s camp floating the idea to the media is the hardest proof so far that he might actually leave the franchise he helped rescue.