Golden State Warriors' veteran may have played last game for the franchise

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Across a turbulent few days for the Golden State Warriors, Chris Paul's hand injury went a little under the radar after an innocuous incident during the third-quarter of Friday's win over the Detroit Pistons.

After having surgery on his fractured left hand, the 19-year NBA veteran is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi on Sunday.

A frustrating hand injury for Chris Paul could signal the end of the veteran point-guard's tenure with the Golden State Warriors

Paul's absence will extend past the February 8 trade deadline, making it entirely plausible that the 38-year-old has played his last game for the franchise. While Paul has been a helpful addition to the Warriors this season, speculation on his future has been apparent from the moment he was acquired by the franchise in June last year.

That's largely because of his $30.8 million expiring contract -- Paul holds a $30 million team option for next season that's highly unlikely to be picked up. That in itself will hold value to rival teams, with The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II reporting Paul's injury is unlikely to hinder a potential trade.

"The injury might keep him out past the Feb. 8 trade deadline. But it doesn't figure to impact Paul's value. The likelihood is that the teams who'd want him will be interested in his expiring contract, which can be used to cut future salary."

Marcus Thompson
Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors' duo Chris Paul and Stephen Curry celebrate against the Denver Nuggets / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Paul is averaging 8.9 points and 7.2 assists in 27.6 minutes this season, proving an important piece in the non-Stephen Curry minutes. His absence was sorely felt in the team's horrid blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, with Golden State missing Paul's steady presence particularly in the first-half where they found themselves down by 27.

While the Warriors may prefer to keep Paul over another veteran like Andrew Wiggins, the latter's lengthy contract may deter teams from taking on the out-of-form 28-year-old. As a result, Golden State may be stuck with Paul, and young and future assets, as their only realistic way of getting a $30+ million player.

Golden State were linked with two-time All-Stars Pascal Siakam and Zach LaVine over the weekend, with pressure on the franchise only growing after a three-game stretch where they blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead against the Denver Nuggets, nearly lost to the league-worst Detroit Pistons, then were trounced by the 11-seed Raptors.

Evaluating Paul's time with the Warriors so far is an interesting exercise -- although he may have played well enough individually, the team's poor form would suggest the trade hasn't had the desired result.

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