Chris Paul is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract but will most likely be staying with the Phoenix Suns.
Normally, it’d be a bad idea for a 36-year-old NBA player with a history of injuries to turn down a $44.2 million player option. But Chris Paul is not your normal point guard, and he may be considering doing exactly that after one of the most rewarding seasons of his career.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, CP3 is expected to decline his hefty player option for next season with the Phoenix Suns, making himself an unrestricted free agent.
But before fans of teams like the New York Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers start daydreaming about signing the star point guard, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that if Paul declines that player option, there’s optimism it will be to hammer out a new deal with the Suns:
Chris Paul probably isn’t leaving the Suns
None of this should be surprising. While it’s easy to envision CP3 in a major market where he can compete for a championship, he literally just reached the NBA Finals for the first time in his 16-year career in Phoenix. He originally pushed for a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Suns in order to play with Devin Booker, he has an extremely close relationship with head coach Monty Williams that transcends basketball, and he’s raved about teammates like Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges all season long, even going as far as saying Bridges was like “one of his sons.”
Combine that closeness and team success with a young core that will help ease his burden as he gets older, and then throw in the leverage of helping Phoenix end an 11-year playoff drought and a 28-year Finals drought, and both sides have plenty of incentive to run it back next season.
The Suns went from 34 wins last season (bolstered by an 8-0 bubble run) to 51 wins in a 72-game season this year. They took down the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, swept the league MVP and his Denver Nuggets in the second round, took care of the LA Clippers in the conference finals and went up 2-0 in the Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks before Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a performance for the ages.
After averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game on 49.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent shooting from 3-point range, Paul’s skills clearly haven’t been captured by Father Time just yet. He’s transformed teams wherever he’s gone, especially younger teams like the Thunder and Suns over the last two years, so he would be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market if he were to entertain other offers.
However, it doesn’t appear that will be the case. Paul could opt out and earn less per season if he gets a three-year deal in the $90-100 million range, which would allow Phoenix the space to re-sign backup guard Cameron Payne and get rookie extensions done for Bridges and Ayton. CP3 knows his prime is dwindling, so starting over yet again wouldn’t make sense. The Suns are on an upward trajectory with this young core after this fun and unexpected Finals run, and as long as the front office is willing to pay up like it’s been indicating it will all season long, it’s unlikely CP3 will even hear other offers on the open market.