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Chris Paul “has plans to talk with the Denver Nuggets”

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Leverage? Or something else?

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In his column about the Los Angeles Clippers’ hiring of Jerry West, Los Angeles Times beat reporter, Broderick Turner had a juicy tidbit about Chris Paul’s plans to meet with teams in free agency.

Paul also has plans to talk with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, one executive said.

So this is a bit of surprise. Like last year’s courtship of Dwyane Wade, the Denver Nuggets are a bit of a strange name on the list of teams Paul would even be interested in. Paul is in the prime of his career and the Nuggets are an up and coming team but probably more than a piece or two away from contending for an NBA championship. It’s likely that Paul wouldn’t consider the Nuggets unless he felt there was a good chance they’d be adding multiple pieces this off-season.

The Nuggets also have a pair of young point guards in Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay as well as one veteran in Jameer Nelson. Paul is clearly better than all of those players at this stage and, similar to Wade last season, would bring a lot of veteran leadership to the young Nuggets roster. However, once again, Paul’s interest at least signals the team’s willingness to move on from one or two of those players, most likely Nelson and Mudiay. Murray could slide over to play backup roles at both the point guard and shooting guard positions if Paul were to come aboard.

There is also a possibility that the Nuggets are just leverage for Paul with other teams but that seems a bit less likely than it did for Wade last season. Paul doesn’t need leverage to get what he wants in free agency. Most teams will be willing to pay him as much money as he wants and the Clippers have the ability to sign him for more than anyone. And even last year, multiple sources were adamant that Wade was not using Denver for leverage but was genuinely interested in the Nuggets organization.

Nonetheless, this is exciting news for Nuggets fans on multiple levels. For one, they appear to be at least in the conversation to land Chris Paul. For two, it shows the team is probing around for big moves this off-season. Adding Chris Paul would be HUGE in terms of recruiting other free agents so the dream is at least alive that the Nuggets have a huge pivot ahead of them this summer.

On the flip side, Murray is still a player with huge upside and while it’s a no-brainer to add Paul if you have the chance, it would likely mean fewer minutes for Murray in year two. The Nuggets may have dodged a bullet by missing out on Wade last season since Gary Harris had a breakout year and likely would not have had the chance had Wade been in front of him on the depth chart.

h/t to @Sidneysdoglife for the link.