THE San Antonio Spurs are reportedly planning to make another splash in free agency with a run at Chris Paul.
League sources told ESPN that the Spurs are exploring options in what could be a tricky task for the franchise to form a star trio in having Paul team up with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge in San Antonio.
It’s a potential move that could help the Spurs keep pace with the stacked Golden State Warriors, who took advantage of Leonard’s injury to sweep San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.
The Los Angeles Clippers, though, remain the favorites to keep Paul with a supermax contract offer worth around $205M for five years. Other teams, including the Spurs, can only dangle a four-year $152M contract to the 32-year-old guard, under the rule changes in the new NBA labor deal.
Still, with the Clippers’ injury woes and playoff failures in the five years with Paul in the roster, the team considers a more successful franchise like San Antonio as a legitimate threat to sign away the All-Star guard.
The challenge, though, with the Spurs is the lack of salary cap flexibility. Even if they let go of five players to free agency (Manu Ginobili, Jonathon Simmons, Patty Mills, David Lee, Dewayne Dedmon), complications remain with the team’s decisions on Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Danny Green.
San Antonio could use the waive-and-stretch provision on the 35-year-old Parker, who had a ruptured quad tendon in the conference semifinals. Trading the aging Spurs mainstay could also help create the cap space for Paul.
But if Gasol opts in on his $16.2M player option next season, San Antonio will look for a possible trade partner to make room for Paul. If the former All-Star Spaniard opts out, that would clear enough cap space to lure the Clippers guard.
Another option the Spurs is considering is to engage in sign-and-trade negotiations with the Clippers, but Paul would not be able to sign a five-year $205M contract in that setting.