As the 2017 NBA Finals ends, free agency rumor season begins. A report from Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times, largely regarding the Clippers hiring Jerry West to a front office role, states that unrestricted free agent Chris Paul is planning to speak with the Denver Nuggets once he declines his player option and enters free agency on July 1.
This could mean a lot of different things. History tells us this is a leverage move to make sure that the Clippers move quickly on Paul, but maybe the nine-time All-Star could actually want a chance to talk to Denver and see how the trajectory of his career could look with the Nuggets.
There is some justifiable proof that Paul may actually want to talk with Denver.
President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly recently said on The Vic Lombardi Show on Altitude Radio that agents have reached out to him and said that their clients want to play with Nuggets’ star center Nikola Jokic.
“Sometimes an agent will reach out to us,” Connelly said. “This offseason, it’s been encouraging. We’ve had a handful of agents reach out to us and say, ‘My player would really like to play with Nikola Jokic.’ I think that speaks well for our future. When a guy wants to play with someone. It’s encouraging.”
Paul’s potential meeting with Denver could be the first ripple of Connelly’s claim.
The Clippers will be able to offer an extra year on a max contract and a total of $53 million more than any other suitor to the 32-year-old Paul, resulting in a max-level, five-year $205 million deal. Denver could offer $152 million over four years.
Paul averaged 18.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 9.2 assists last season over 61 games and kept a firm grasp on the ‘leagues’ best defensive point guard’ title.
If Denver finds a way to bring in Paul, even for just a meeting, it would be a clear signifier that Denver is done not making the playoffs and is looking to contend sooner rather than later. Armed with an abundant amount of cap space, young talent, and tons of movable contracts, the Nuggets could become a premier free agent destination with Paul joining the current core of Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Jokic.