For years now, the recurring story every summer for the Chicago Bulls revolves around their lack of a true starting-caliber point guard. So when a true star guard like Chris Paul hits the open market, you can bet that Bulls fans everywhere began salivating at the idea. If CP3 is truly waived ahead of this year’s free agency period, then Chicago’s front office will have a tough decision on their hands.
This news has the fanbase split at the moment, with many advocating for Chicago to go out and sign the future Hall of Famer, while many others are hesitant to devote a lot of money to a player with his best years well behind him (the scars of Dwyane Wade won’t fade any time soon, I reckon).
But since we weren’t able to reach a vast majority in the fan poll, I thought we should walk through things and break it all down with a classic pros and cons list. Should the Chicago Bulls really be picking up the phone to bring Chris Paul to the Windy City?
The Pros: Why the Chicago Bulls should pursue Chris Paul
- The Bulls need a playmaker
Not only is Chris Paul undoubtedly the best playmaker in this year’s free agent class (if Phoenix does indeed let him walk) he’s still arguably the best passer in the entire NBA, period. Even at 36 years old, CP3 led the league with 10.8 assists per game to claim his fifth steals title during the 2021-22 season. Since joining Phoenix, he’s assisted on 41.4% of all Suns’ field goals made while he was on the court, while also posting an immaculate assist-to-turnover ratio. There’s no telling what a player like that could unlock for Chicago’s offensive weapons.
- Chicago is a more dangerous team with a floor general
Two seasons ago, the Bulls went 22-13 with Lonzo Ball at the helm, on pace for 51.5 wins. This past season, the Bulls went 14-9 with Patrick Beverley at point, on pace for 50 wins. Without either player, the Bulls went 50-56 over the past two seasons. If that doesn’t make it abundantly obvious just how badly this team needs a quality point guard, I’m not sure what will.
- CP3 is the best attainable free agent
Up against the salary cap without much wiggle room to make moves, Chicago must instead target players with their MLE if they want to add a real contributor instead of veteran minimum-caliber players. Signing CP3 on the MLE would be a huge improvement for a relatively cheap amount of money, and could be the biggest needle-mover move the Bulls can make this summer.
The Cons: Why the Chicago Bulls shouldn’t sign Chris Paul
- Age and declining performance
We’ll just get the most obvious one out of the way here first. Turning 38 years old last month, Paul’s best years are clearly behind him. He was borderline unplayable at certain points of the playoffs this year, and it’s likely only going to get worse from here. Trusting him to lead the Bulls through an 82-game regular season and the playoffs at this point is… not a great plan.
- Not on the right timeline as Chicago’s core
Remember all the fuss fans made about DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic being “too old? While completely dismissing veteran players is silly, it’s also equally foolish to believe a team can operate on two separate timelines at once. We’ve seen how this has destroyed the Golden State Warriors internally this year, so trying to emulate that strategy with a significantly worse roster is probably not going to play out the way we want.
- CP3’s antics and lack of accountability
Despite building up a reputation as a great leader over the years, Paul has repeatedly failed to elevate his teammates to a place where the whole unit is greater than the sum of its parts. You can’t place all the blame for Paul’s postseason shortcomings squarely on his shoulders, but the fact he’s always the common denominator and inviting more trouble onto himself makes it hard to defend his history.
The Verdict: Differences likely too much to overcome
While I admit CP3 would make a lot of sense as a temporary stopgap until the Bulls can settle on a long-term solution, he’s made it clear his ultimate goal is to compete for (and win) a championship before he retires. For that reason, the Bulls aren’t an ideal destination, even if they have a big role and plenty of minutes to offer. Chicago’s front office also won’t over-extend themselves in negotiations by offering an unreasonable amount of money or years on any deal, so CP3 will likely find a more attractive offer elsewhere.