The Phoenix Suns surprised everyone else when they made it to the 2021 NBA Finals. Unfortunately, they failed to complete the job against the Milwaukee Bucks. While the Suns look to build on their recent success, they may have to do it without Chris Paul.
By declining a 44.2 million-dollar player option, Chris Paul becomes an unrestricted free agent. He averaged 16 points, eight assists, and four rebounds per game during the 2020-2021 regular season. In 20 playoff games in 2021, he put up 19 points, eight assists, and two steals per game. Those aren’t unpleasant numbers for a 36-year old point guard.
While optimism remains that CP3 will return to Phoenix, there’s still the possibility of him going elsewhere. With numerous rumors regarding where he could go from here popping out left and right, CP3 could be one of the most-watched free agents this year.
This move from Chris Paul could go two ways: he stays in Phoenix assuming he gets the desired contract, or he signs elsewhere. Which is which?
That will depend on how Phoenix will prioritize who they will keep once free agency opens.
The Suns will have rookie extensions to complete for Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Also, there’s the angle of Cameron Payne becoming a free agent too. Payne caused a lot of pain in the recent playoffs as a backup guard. Any team who signs Payne would benefit from the signing. If Chris Paul wants a bigger paycheck from the Suns, Phoenix could be in limbo financially.
The word is: CP3 wants a 90-million dollar deal. Is it too much to pay a 36-year old? Perhaps. But for Phoenix, it’s not about the cost. It’s about the result.
The Suns made it to the finals without everyone else thinking they could make it to the playoffs. They did that with Chris Paul showing that he is still the Point Guard. It’s only logical for CP3 to return to Phoenix and run it back with Ayton, Bridges, Payne, and Devin Booker.
The LA Question
CP3 becoming a free agent doesn’t mean he’s leaving the Suns. However, that doesn’t remove the possibility of him joining LeBron James in Hollywood.
Everyone knows this: LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers want Chris Paul. However, the Lakers recently shocked the NBA when they acquired Russell Westbrook in a trade. With the massive contracts of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook in their books, the Lakers have limited options heading into the opening of the free agency.
Then again, when LeBron James wants something done, it’s done.
Prediction: CP3 Staying Put
While many NBA teams would go after Chris Paul in the free agency, pundits still believe that Chris Paul staying in Phoenix is the best route for Paul and the Suns. It may be an expensive route but, it’s the best route Phoenix could take to win an NBA championship.
In the end, it boils down to pushing the right buttons. If and when Phoenix and Paul manage to get the most beneficial deal, it would go a long way.