Warriors’ $30 Million Star Leaving for Conference Rival a ‘Real Possibility’

Warriors' Chris Paul and Steph Curry

Getty Stephen Curry #30 and Chris Paul #3 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate against the Washington Wizards.

The Golden State Warriors have a $30 million decision on 12-time NBA All-Star guard Chris Paul to make by June 28.

If they cut Paul, they might be helping their conference rival Los Angeles Lakers, who could grab the future Hall of Famer, according to Bleacher Report’s salary cap expert Eric Pincus.

“Chris Paul will probably be a free agent,” Pincus said on “Buha’s Block” on May 20. “There is a reasonable chance he gets traded or just cut by the Warriors. LeBron [James] and [Paul] obviously have a close relationship. There is a universe where the Lakers sign Chris Paul. I don’t think it’s outrageous.

I would be remiss without mentioning Chris Paul as a real possibility. It makes a lot of sense to me… Is Chris coming for the minimum? I don’t know… I don’t want to say he comes cheap to the Lakers, but in the absence of a better offer I could see that.”

Steve Kerr Lobbies for Chris Paul’s Return

Paul’s veteran leadership steadied the Warriors bench and guided their young players. If Kerr has his way, he would love for Paul to return next season.

“Chris has been fantastic, not only on the court but the leadership. … He is one of our best players. … I love coaching Chris (Paul). I really hope we bring him back next year,” Kerr told reporters after the Warriors’ season ended in a play-in loss to the Sacramento Kings on April 16.

Paul, 39, is coming off the worst season of his career moving on to a bench role after starting in his first 18 seasons in the NBA. He averaged under 30 minutes for the first time. But Paul made the most of his opportunity, producing 9.2 points, 6.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 26.4 minutes for the Warriors.

“Yeah, I mean, with Chris, like everything, everything,” Kerr said. “He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve ever been around. The sacrifice that he made to come off the bench.

“The sacrifice to, for the first time in his career, not only come off the bench, but at times play 18 minutes like the other night.

“For a Hall of Fame guy to do that and not complain, but actually do the opposite and be encouraging to the rest of the guys on the bench, and to the coaches, and to collaborate and go through the entire season and he was incredible. I feel lucky to have coached him and I hope I get to coach him again next year, but we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Warriors’ Options with Chris Paul

The Warriors could fully guarantee Paul’s salary if a viable trade presents itself during the NBA Draft. If not, they would likely cut Paul to save money.

Like Kerr, Warriors’ general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. would love to have Paul back but he was non-committal owing to the large money they would commit to have him as their Sixth Man.

“Yeah, I mean, I think overall I was really pleased with Chris having him on this team this year what he gave us in the locker room, on the court, off the court,” Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy told reporters during his exit interview on April 18.

“I think admittedly he probably wished he had a larger role and could help the team a little bit more, but I think moving forward because of his production and the guy can still do it and what he means to winning and all that stuff, we certainly have interest in bringing him back.

“But like the puzzle stuff, we got to look at and figure out and see and there’s definitely a viable path to do that, but we’re not really down the road yet of like specifically what we can and can’t do.”