Well, Boston Celtics fans, the first blockbuster deal of the offseason has set the NBA world on fire with the Washington Wizards sending Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns for Chris Paul and Landry Shamet, along with several second-round picks and trades. The Wizards also sent Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd to Phoenix as they officially began their rebuild.
Unless a third team joins the trade, Paul will likely negotiate a buyout with Washington and hit free agency. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal has yet to be finalized as Washington is still fielding offers from third teams that could show trade interest in Point God.
Assuming the first ballot Hall of Famer ends up with the Wizards, Washington is expected to buy out Paul for a whopping $30.8 million. Such a payday would boost career earnings upwards of $350 million, and the veteran point guard would be well positioned to sign with a contending team on a minimum contract.
According to various sources, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as primary frontrunners in the CP3 sweepstakes. However, Paul will have his pick of the litter and could pursue a slightly different route in his ongoing quest for a title.
Enter the Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics should pursue the all-time great without hesitation
Paul still promotes ball movement as well as anyone in the NBA. Last season, the Suns finished third in the league in both assist percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio. They also finished fourth in total team assists.
In his 18th season, the floor general averaged 13.9 points and 8.9 assists in 59 contests. While Paul missed 23 regular-season outings and finished the playoffs on the sidelines, his age and durability concerns wouldn’t pose as much of an issue for a Boston team loaded with talent and versatility at the guard position.
In a scenario where Boston convinces Paul to choose Beantown in free agency, the Celtics are expected to part ways with reigning Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon. Paul would likely come in and replace Brogdon as Boston’s backup point guard with more than enough playmaking upside to find his way into the starting lineup. Either way, Paul would surely close out many games with the starters thanks to his undying ability to dish and handle the rock.
At their best, the 2022-23 Celtics steamrolled opponents with elite ball movement and 3-point shooting. However, isolation basketball reared its head for them at the worst times this postseason, causing their consistency and shot quality to drop too often.
Some of Boston’s offensive struggles stem from the team’s reliance on Jaylen Brown as a heavily used ball handler. Despite Brown’s undeniable scoring ability, he still has room to grow in areas like ball handling and playmaking. For this reason, the Celtics could benefit from a player like Paul to take some of those responsibilities away from Brown.
In the playoffs, Jayson Tatum often becomes Boston’s primary ball-handling option at the top of the key. No matter what defensive coverage teams throw at him, he is a deadly scorer and distributor in such scenarios. Yet his linemate Brown still boasted a top-12 usage rate in the league last season with a 30.7% mark. This level of Brown usage doesn’t make much sense for the Celtics given No. 7’s strengths and weaknesses as a player.
While Tatum has come on leaps and bounds as a playmaker, he could also use a break from some of his ball-handling duties. This is where Chris Paul can really turn the tide for Boston’s unpredictable half-court offense.
The Boston Celtics’ top stars have never played with a point guard like Chris Paul
From Kyrie Irving to Kemba Walker, Boston has often surrounded their superstar duo with point-first point guards. Marcus Smart just had a good playmaking campaign, but his 5.1 assists per game struggle this postseason doesn’t exactly measure up to Paul’s wizardry.
While most of Boston’s current guards have the ability to play for the Jays, none of them can run a set offense like CP3 can. For that reason alone, the Celtics should make their strongest possible pitch to Paul and his agent.
At the end of the day, Point God will have all the power to decide where he goes in the event of a buyout. If he wants to finally win his first championship, his best shot may come from chasing a ring in Boston.