Celtics Offseason

Should Celtics pursue Chris Paul? Assessing veteran PG's fit in Boston

Would Chris Paul be on board with the role he'd likely have in Boston?

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Amid questions about how the Boston Celtics can get over the hump to deliver Banner 18, a potential solution popped up Wednesday night.

The Phoenix Suns reportedly plan to waive veteran point guard Chris Paul, making him one of the NBA's most coveted free agents despite turning 38 in May. Paul prefers to stay in Phoenix to play with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, but if he hits free agency, he'd be fair game for any team to sign -- including a contender like the Celtics.

Paul is a 12-time All-Star, a future Hall of Famer and one of the NBA's best pure point guards of all time, so it's understandable why C's fans could get excited about pairing the Point God with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It's also understandable why some believe Paul is past his prime and wouldn't be worth the potential cost or injury risk.

So, is Paul at least considering for Boston? CBS Boston's Michael Hurley is in the anti-Paul camp, pointing out Paul's dubious postseason resume Wednesday on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight.

"This team doesn't have a regular season problem. This team (has) a playoff problem," Hurley said of the Celtics. "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."

To Hurley's point, Paul has only played in one NBA Finals (a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021) and two Conference Finals over 18 seasons. He's 12-15 all-time in playoff series, has lost seven of nine conference semifinal series and is in the group of best NBA players to never win a championship.

And yet, as BST co-host Michael Holley argued, Paul's skill set could fill an important need for the Celtics.

"They do need a pure point guard. They do. And he's the last one left," Holley said. " ... 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."

Of course, the C's are already very deep at the guard position with Marcus Smart (the team's longest-tenured player), Derrick White, Malcolm Brogdon and Payton Pritchard. Even if Boston parts with two of those players, Paul would have to share backcourt minutes and potentially even come off the bench -- something he's never done in 1,214 career games.

"I would want him on the team, but not as a starter," Holley added of Paul. "So, the way the Celtics need him, he wouldn't come for that. He played 32 minutes per game last year; he needs to play 25 minutes per game (in Boston)."

That final point might be the biggest roadblock for Paul coming to Boston. Based on his age and injury history, Paul would be ideal as a super Sixth Man who reduces his minutes in the regular season to stay fresh for the regular season. But Paul has yet to come off the bench in 1,214 career games, and even in this late stage of his career, he probably wouldn't be keen on embracing a Sixth Man role like Brogdon did this past season.

If Paul is willing to sign in Boston for the midlevel exception and play under 30 minutes per night, the Celtics absolutely should pursue him. But that just doesn't seem like a realistic scenario.

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