There was a lot of buzz just after the Finals about teams trying to make a run at Chris Paul and pry him away from the Suns in free agency, starting with the Lakers (always a long shot), through the Heat, with Dallas in the mix.
None of that was ever likely, and the talk has seemed to cool down around the league. Chris Paul chose to come to the Suns, led them to the NBA Finals, and likes his fit as a mentor to Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and the rest of the team. The sense now from league sources is he will decline his $44.2 million player option and re-sign a three-year contract with the Suns. Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report put it this way.
The biggest fish, Chris Paul, appears all but destined to return to Phoenix, sources said, on a deal that’s now widely rumored to be for at least three years, $90 million.
Some sources say more like $100 million, but the bottom line remains the same — Chris Paul isn’t leaving the Suns. It’s not a surprise. Right after the Finals ended CP3 sounded like a guy who wanted to run it back in Phoenix.
“For me, it just means back to work. Back to work. Nothing more, nothing less,” Paul said of what came next for him after the Finals loss. “Ain’t no moral victories or whatnot. We sort of saw what it takes to get there and hopefully we see what it takes to get past that…
“Everybody in that locker room knows we had enough, but it wasn’t enough. So, we got to figure it out. I think for me, I just look at myself and figure out how can I get better, what I could have done more, and make sure I come back next season ready to do it again.”
Paying Paul leads to questions about how far into his pocketbook normally frugal owner Robert Sarver is willing to go. He admitted the luxury tax is coming and he will pay it, but saying it and actually writing the check can be two different things. Cameron Payne is an unrestricted free agent that some teams have their eyes on. Ayton and Mikal Bridges are extension eligible. The Suns need a backup center and more to fill out the roster.
It’s going to get expensive, but Paul costs the team a little less next season — in the name of more guaranteed money and long-term security for CP3 — something that works for both him and the Suns.