Which 2017 Free Agents Should the Pelicans Keep an Eye On?

2 of 5

Jan 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) moves the ball defended by New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) during overtime at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers won in overtime 114-111. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Priority #1: Chris Paul

It’s been half a decade since CP3 played basketball in New Orleans, but he’s still as good as ever.

Paul averaged 21.5 points, 11.0 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.3 turnovers last season on 46% from the floor, 37% from deep, and 89% from the free throw line. Looking at his career stats, last season appears to be his 2nd or 3rd best season of his career despite hitting 30 years old.

The reason Paul is still elite is that his game doesn’t really rely on athleticism. His intelligence, ball handling, shooting, and defense are all aging like fine wine and he doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

Despite Paul’s unbelievable production, the Clippers have found themselves beginning to hit a ceiling. They have failed to make it out of the 2nd round, and Blake Griffin has been involved numerous trade rumors with just one year left on his contract.

Let’s say Blake is tired of the Clippers. Rather than re-signing, he wants to head back home to Oklahoma and play with superstar Russell Westbrook. Is Chris Paul going to stay and finish his career next to DeAndre Jordan? If not, the Pelicans could swoop in with an attractive pitch.

They would need to sell Chris Paul on the Pelicans supporting cast being a better version of the Clippers. If AD has a monster season then you sell him as a better 2nd option than Blake was on both the defensive and offensive ends. If Buddy bursts onto the scene next summer they could sell him as a younger version of J.J. Redick with more athleticism and potential.

They won’t have a replacement for DeAndre, but they will have the kind of depth the Clippers have wanted for years. The Pelicans can sign CP3 to a max 35+ million dollar deal and still keep AD, Buddy, Hill, Moore, Dante, Quincy, Ajinca, Frazier, and Galloway.

You sell Paul on the storyline aspect of him returning to the team that drafted him, but you also sell him on the fact they gets to play with AD, Buddy, and an insanely deep supporting cast. Once AD and CP3 are together, moving a few guys away to sign a third star becomes a real possibility as well.

Next: Free Agent #2: The New Orleans Jazz