Grading the Spurs bombshell Chris Paul signing: In-depth analysis

The San Antonio Spurs have officially added 12-time All-Star Chris Paul to the roster in free agency. Here's how we grade the signing.

Surprise, Spurs fans—on the first evening of 2024 free agency, TNT’s Chris Haynes broke the news that Chris Paul, a 19-year NBA veteran and 12-time All-Star point guard, will be signing with the San Antonio Spurs for the 2024-’25 season. This move came after Paul was waived by the Golden State Warriors earlier in the day, and per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, his new contract has been confirmed to be a one-year, $11-million-plus deal (structure pending).

After enduring a lengthy point guard experiment with Jeremy Sochan and finishing out the season with a very good, albeit flawed, Tre Jones at the helm, Spurs players and fans alike should be pleased to hear that a veteran presence is on the way. Paul’s presence will undoubtedly have short- and long-term implications, so without wasting any more time, here’s how we grade the signing.

For the sake of this exercise, we’re going to assume for now that Paul will immediately be slotted into the starting lineup. He will quite easily be the most experienced player on the roster next season, and given the general instability at the point guard position in San Antonio ever since the Dejounte Murray trade, it’s reasonable to assume that everyone involved will value that experience from day one. In this case, a starting lineup of Paul, Devin Vassell, Stephon Castle, Jeremy Sochan, and Victor Wembanyama at 1–5, respectively, is highly likely.

Chris Paul isn’t Trae Young, nor is he Rob Dillingham, but that does not mean that Spurs fans should scoff at this signing. From a purely basketball perspective, inserting Paul next to the Spurs’ four most recent lottery picks has meaningful upside. Wembanyama now has a highly experienced pick-and-roll (and lob) partner, Vassell will get to share the floor with another efficient shotmaker, and Sochan’s talent as an off-ball cutter will only become clearer.

For those concerned about Castle’s role in that lineup, don’t be. Being that Castle made it clear in the pre-draft process that he wants to eventually play as a starting point guard in the league, one of the most frequent (and valid) concerns brought up by draft analysts leading up to draft day was that Castle isn’t ready for that big of an on-ball role. With Paul now in the lineup, Castle can play in an off-ball/secondary ballhandling role nearly identical to the one he played in his lone season at UConn. Meanwhile, Paul can slowly show him the ropes when it comes to NBA-level point guard play.

The Spurs made a smart move by acquiring Chris Paul

In a nutshell, Paul will make everyone better. He brings the efficient complementary shotmaking that the roster as a whole desperately needs, a tremendous basketball IQ, and a sense of direction that will do wonders for one of the youngest rosters in the league. While many of the young Spurs players have been thrown into the proverbial fire the past few seasons for the sake of growth, Paul’s signing will now allow those young players to play to their strengths much more.

Moreover, a bench role for Tre Jones may be something that gets glossed over in the coming months, but this could have just as positive of an impact on the team. When Jones wasn’t coming off the bench this past season, we mostly saw that role being filled by Malaki Branham—who is very much not a point guard—along with spot minutes from Blake Wesley and Devonte’ Graham. Just as Paul will benefit the other starters, Jones will serve as the bench unit's desperately needed table-setter, benefiting nearly everyone in bench lineups.

Lastly, from a financial perspective, this is an equally good acquisition. A short-term (one-year) contract worth roughly $11 million offers quite a bit of opportunity and flexibility moving forward without much downside. Paul will already be considered an expiring contract by the trade deadline, meaning the team can explore trades that offer more draft capital in return if they so choose. Paul’s contract could also be used as an outgoing salary in a bigger deal if the team opts to search for an impact player in a return package.

On the other hand, if the season with Paul goes well, the Spurs could simply sign him to another short-term deal and run it back. While the Spurs will want to go in the right direction sooner rather than later, there won’t necessarily be a huge rush to make a big upgrade if a good opportunity on the market doesn’t present itself. In other words, the Spurs won’t trade Paul just for the sake of making a trade, nor will they let him walk in free agency if there’s mutual interest in a return.

So, if you’re asking what the big takeaway is, it’s that the Spurs made a low-risk, high-reward deal. In the best-case scenario, Paul will allow the Spurs’ younger players to play to their strengths more so than they’ve been able to over the past few seasons while giving ample time for Castle to develop point guard skills and generally good habits.

The Spurs have essentially acquired a good-fitting player without having spent any draft capital or taking on an expensive and/or long-term contract. In just about every conceivable way, this is a big win.

Grade: A