Three Chris Paul Free Agency Destinations

Chris Paul
Chris Paul / Harry How/GettyImages

Chris Paul's season ended in familiar fashion this year -- in the playoffs, well before the NBA Finals, with him sidelined by injury. Paul's Phoenix Suns bowed against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of this year's postseason. The veteran point guard missed the final four games of the series with a groin injury. Now he's going to hit the open market, as Chris Haynes reports the Suns will release Paul before free agency begins later this month.

This is a pretty big surprise. Paul is no longer the impact player he once was but remains one of the elite table-setters in today's game. And his midrange jumper is still buttery. Many teams would be grateful for the opportunity to have CP3 come off the bench and run pick-and-rolls for 20 minutes every game. It's no longer the automatic offense it once was, but it's pretty close and Paul will have plenty of suitors.

Which team he ends up with depends on his priorities. In a follow-up tweet, Haynes said Paul was looking forward to competing for a championship. If that means he does not care how much money he'll make, the possibilities are wide-ranging. If he wants to make MLE money, his options will dry up quickly.

Here are a few possible destinations on both ends of that spectrum for Paul's services.

Los Angeles Lakers

This feels quite likely to happen. Paul is longtime friends with LeBron James and has lived in Los Angeles for the bulk of his career. He even came this close to wearing purple and gold way back when. The Lakers would absolutely love to have a pass-first point guard on the roster. He'd take the load off LeBron during the regular season and make Anthony Davis' life on the offensive end a lot easier -- which will also be reflected on the defensive end. The Lakers are not prohibitive favorites but can absolutely compete next season and if they get to the postseason with a healthy pair of stars, anything can happen.

It helps that the Lakers could pay Paul more than the veteran minimum if he wanted. They have a bunch of free agents this offseason and it wouldn't be hard to carve out $10 million for a two-year deal for Paul. If both sides are interested this is a great fit.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics sure could've used Paul in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat this year. In the bigger picture, one of the issues plaguing Boston is the inability of its two stars to get easy shots. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are tremendous shot-makers but don't make life easy on themselves. Paul running an offense that would generate quality looks for those two would go a long way towards fixing the issues that prevented the Celtics from reaching the NBA Finals this season.

This isn't a sure thing, however. Boston cannot afford to give Paul anything more than a minimum contract. Guys aren't signing with the Celtics for the weather. And the team already has a plethora of guards, all of whom are probably better than Paul at this stage. Still, if Paul wants a legit shot at a title, the Celtics are on a shortlist of guaranteed contenders for next season.

Miami Heat

Regardless of how the NBA Finals shake out for Miami there will be changes on the roster next season. Kyle Lowry is owed $33 million and they the Heat would undoubtedly love to get out of that deal if possible. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus are both free agents. Pat Riley won't destroy his team's cap sheet to run it back after such an unlikely run. As such, if they do end up losing a key rotation player, by design or not, Paul would be a great fit with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He can set both of them up in their ideal spots and his pick and roll ability would be a good change of pace from the dribble-handoff offense they run so effectively.

How much money Paul can make is dependent on the aforementioned factors, so that is hard to determine at this time. But he seems like a good fit for "Heat Culture" should he decide to go down that path this late in his career.