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Will the Chris Paul Trade Affect the Wolves Plans in Free Agency?

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Chris Paul is packing his bags for Houston. Does this move affect the Wolves plans in free agency?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is a video game. No one is safe.

After Chris Paul informed Doc Rivers (and Roc Divers) that he would be pursuing a move to the Houston Rockets in free agency, the Clippers worked swiftly to move Paul to the Rockets. All things considered, it’s a pretty good return for CP3 given his plans to decline the player option on his contract. He could have walked for nothing. Here is the trade:

Houston Rockets Receive: Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, and the Rockets 2018 first round pick (Top-3 protected)

Why trade for Paul when he could have signed for free?

  1. While Beverley, Williams, and Dekker were on relatively cheap deals, none of those players were essential to this new iteration of the Rockets.
  2. Moving those players clears $15.88 million from the Rockets clogged cap sheet. This leaves the possibility for Houston to keep long-range marksman Ryan Anderson.
  3. The trade should keep the Rockets over the salary, which allows the team use the Mid-Level Exception (MLE) on a free agent. In this new cap environment, the MLE is now a hefty contract that can be (up to) four years and $36.1 million. That type of contract could entice higher quality “ring chasers” than we are accustomed to.

Impact on Wolves Free Agency

Through either trade or an outright free agent signing, the Wolves name has been bantered about in connection to a few players on both the Clippers and Rockets.

J.J. Redick

This trade hints at the possibility of a full blow-up in Los Angeles. Prior to this move, there was some thought to the notion that Clippers may “run it back” with Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Redick. With Paul gone and Griffin’s unrestricted free agency, now, at the forefront of the Clippers decision making, the explosion is happening.

Redick is theoretically looking to play for a contender but also looking to get paid. With the addition of Jimmy Butler, Minnesota is one of the only good teams, even if not a contender, that has salary cap space available for a player of Redick’s caliber. If the Wolves are to renounce Shabazz Muhammad’s cap hold, they will have $18.7 million in cap space. That is a very Redick-y number.

Patrick Beverley

Beverley’s name had been thrown out as a potential trade acquisition for the Wolves this offseason. Beverley is on one of the most cost-effective veteran deals in the league, due $5.53 million this season and a non-guaranteed $5.02 million the following season.

If the Wolves were to clear space by moving Rubio’s contract—2 remaining years for $29.2 million—to sign a max or near-max free agent (Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka, or Blake Griffin) Beverley presented a point guard option on the cheap. While Beverley—a recent selection to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team—looks to have found a new home in Los Angeles, there is a lesser likelihood of this move.

Point Guard Market

A huge question in the greater understanding of the free agent market has been, where do these point guards sign? Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Jeff Teague, Kyle Lowry, and others have had their names attached to the Wolves in #rumors. Chris Paul’s move to Houston plugs one of the potential landing spots for a point guard.

As the question of not only “where do these guys go?” but “who pays them?” becomes more ambiguous, in theory, the Wolves become more enticing. With less potential landing spots, the market for point guards continues to depress. Good news for the Wolves who may be one of the more palatable options on the market.

No matter how you slice it, the NBA continues to reign over the news cycle. All in a random Wednesday morning, Phil Jackson, and Chris Paul—arguably the best coach and point guard of this generation—have severed ties with their previous franchises. Get on board, the madness is just beginning.