3) Chris Paul
With the Golden State Warriors continuing to underperform, the odds of a big trade seemingly increase. That could benefit the Spurs since one of the most likely trade candidates is Chris Paul, who is making nearly $30 million this season but is not guaranteed for next season. With Paul potentially being used as a matching salary in a trade for a star, his new team will likely waive or buy him out to give him the flexibility to choose his next team.
Normally, a seven-win team wouldn't be high on the list of a future Hall of Famer. But thanks to a new rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players who were making $12.9 million or more before being waived or bought out are prevented from signing with a second-apron team, with second-apron referring to teams well over the $136 million salary cap limit, reaching $182.5 million.
That would prevent teams such as the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks from signing him, possibly bumping the Spurs up on his list. While he could still sign with a team such as the New York Knicks and ring chase, he may not have as big of a role. At least in San Antonio, he'd be able to start, play with a rising superstar in Wembanyama, and play for a Hall of Fame coach. It's not as far-fetched as it might seem.