Paul had two of his title-hope seasons thwarted by the Warriors. In 2018, Paul and the Houston Rockets had a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference finals before he got hurt, missed the final two games and Golden State prevailed on the way to the NBA title.
And in 2019, the Warriors beat Paul and the Rockets again, that time in the West semifinals before ultimately falling to Toronto in the NBA Finals.
The move could also provide the Warriors with financial flexibility in future seasons. Poole is about to begin a four-year, $128 million deal. Paul is due about $31 million this coming season and has nothing guaranteed after that.
It may usher in something totally new and different for Paul — a bench role.
He has appeared in 1,214 regular-season games and another 149 in the playoffs, and has started every single one of them. But it obviously seems unlikely that he would supplant guards Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson in Golden State’s starting lineup.
So, at 38 years old and about to enter his 19th NBA season, Paul could find himself in a new position. But there is an obvious tradeoff, since the Warriors will almost certainly be considered a title-contender going into next season after winning four championships in the last decade — and Paul has never gotten his championship. He went to the NBA Finals with Phoenix in 2021, but the Suns blew a 2-0 series lead and lost to Milwaukee in six games.
The Rockets were looking to add some additional star power to their backcourt and found it in Paul, who would team with resident star James Harden in Houston. At the time, Paul was a nine-time All-Star who had averaged 18.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals over his 12-year career. In Houston, the hope was Paul and Harden could power the Rockets to their first NBA Finals since 1995 and they nearly did.
The Rockets built a 3-2 series lead against the defending-champion Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. But Paul injured his right hamstring in Game 5 of that series and missed the next two games. Game 7 was in Houston, but the Rockets went cold from 3-point range and lost the game.
Paul also has a $30 million expiring contract, compared with the four years and $140 million left on the extension Poole signed before the start of last season, removing a significant chunk of money from Golden State’s future books as the Warriors navigate the harsher penalties on big-spending teams imposed by the league’s new collective bargaining agreement. The Warriors have to sort out the possibility of a new contract with franchise cornerstone Draymond Green after he opted out of his contract earlier this month and became a free agent.
Washington will get Poole, who will step into the starting shooting guard spot vacated by Beal in the trade, and as part of a newly formed starting backcourt for the Wizards that has come together in the past 24 hours. Washington had previously agreed to send Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics late Wednesday night shortly before his midnight deadline to pick up his $36 million player option for next season in a three-team deal with the Memphis Grizzlies that saw the Wizards land point guard Tyus Jones.
During his time with the Warriors, Poole the 28th pick in the 2019 NBA draft developed into a dynamic scoring guard, one who averaged 24.6 points and 4.6 assists as a starter in 43 games this season.
But Poole’s season was overshadowed by Green punching him during a preseason practice, and after playing well in Golden State’s run to the 2022 NBA title averaging 17.0 points on 50.8% shooting overall and 39% from 3 his numbers slumped to 10.3 points on 34% shooting overall and 25.4% from 3.
Meanwhile, sources told Wojnarowski on Tuesday that Washington forward Kyle Kuzma, one of the more intriguing free agents on the market this summer, has declined his player option and will be an unrestricted free agent.
NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said the league’s board of governors decided in November to allow “passive, non-controlling, minority investments in NBA teams by institutional investors, including university endowments, foreign and domestic pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, subject to a set of policy guidelines adopted at that time.” All investments fitting that bill require league review and NBA board approval.
“The NBA Board is currently reviewing a potential investment by QIA in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Wizards, among other sports properties,” Bass said. “In accordance with the policy, if approved, QIA would have a passive, minority investment in the team, with no involvement in its operations or decision-making.”
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Associated Press that the league had already approved the investment.
An expert in such transactions said sports are part of Qatar’s nation-branding and public diplomacy strategy and that this move aligns with that strategy.
“Part of that strategy includes purchasing, sponsoring or buying equity in international sports organizations in Western markets, especially in central cities,” said Dr. Yoav Dubinsky, Instructor of Sports Business in the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon. “From a political standpoint, it means further legitimizing Qatar as a business partner in the West, including in the heart of American politics.”
The Warriors traded Poole, the 28th overall pick in 2019, at the onset of the four-year, $128 million extension he signed last offseason after what seemed to be a breakout 2022 championship season. Poole struggled last season coming off the bench and especially in the postseason. He averaged 20.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds this season while shooting 43% from the field and 33.6% from deep.
Poole’s departure this offseason seemed like a real possibility after his relationship with Draymond Green was strained last October. A video went viral in the preseason of Green punching Poole in the face during a practice session. He signed the extension weeks after the punch.
After this season concluded with a second-round loss to the Lakers, coach Steve Kerr admitted that the altercation left a cloud over the team. Green also said the incident caused him to spend the first half of the season walking on eggshells and inhibited his ability to be the team’s fiery and vocal leader.
With the Warriors now not having to worry about footing the bill for Poole, and Klay Thompson, barring an extension, coming off the books next summer, Golden State will have more financial freedom after this season to potentially bolster its roster with other star free agents.
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