Maybe five or six years ago, a healthy and younger Chris Paul would’ve been the answer hands down.
Even at the age of 37 with all the wear and tear on his body, a natural point guard with veteran leadership and hunger would be a welcome to a team lead by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
With the Phoenix Suns planning to wave Paul, of course the rumors are swirling that the Celtics would be one of the teams in the mix for the veteran point guard. But the question is should they pursue Paul if the interest is mutual?
Chris Paul not the answer for the Boston Celtics unless…
NBC Sports Boston’s Michael Hurley isn’t on the bandwagon of a Paul to Boston match. One of the main reasons is the Celtics would be getting another player with an injury history and a suspect playoff resume.
"“This team doesn’t have a regular season problem. This team (has) a playoff problem,” Hurley said this past week on NBC Sports Boston’s Boston Sports Tonight. “When I think of playoff warrior, I don’t think Chris Paul. The man has had one long playoff run in his career. He’s been around forever.”"
While the playoff history hasn’t been favorable for Paul, the hunger to win a title along with his experience could help and push both Tatum and Brown. This is as long as he would accept being a piece of the puzzle and not one of the main pieces of the puzzle. In other words, in a decreased role, the skillset Paul would bring to a Celtics team in need of a pure point guard would be hard to turn down.
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In talking pure point guard, the Celtics would then have a decision to make on the three guards they already at that position. Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all have their values to the team, but none of them has had the career Chris Paul has had in this league.
Holley points that out in the flip side of his argument.
"“They do need a pure point guard. They do. And he’s the last one left,” Holley continued. “..Look at the leaders in assists this year. No. 1 guy in assists is James Harden; not a pure point guard. No. 2 in assists: Trae Young; not a pure point guard. Then you’ve got (Nikola) Jokic at No. 3 in assists. No. 4 was Chris Paul, and No. 5 is Luka (Doncic); not a pure point guard. Chris Paul is the last pure point guard in basketball.”"
While Smart and Brogdon have been more than fine at the point position, Paul would give the Boston Celtics a savvy veteran at the point guard position who will find shots for Tatum and Brown. A player who will calm things down and keep the offense flowing. A player who in limited minutes, in a limited role could still show extended flashes of his younger self.
Paul did prove in Phoenix he is still a top point guard. He also proved in Phoenix that he is battling injuries that could make him unavailable at times the team will really need him. But, with load management and how deep the Boston Celtics are at the guard position, they can keep him fresh for a playoff run.
That is a big if at this stage of his career. The Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker experiments didn’t work in Boston, but with Paul, they will have a pass first type of point guard with the ability to take over the game offensively during stretches. With two studs like Tatum and Brown on the court with him, it works.
But would Paul take a midlevel exception and less playing time to that player to get the Boston Celtics over the hump?