- Chris Paul has decisions to make, and that includes his $44 million player option
- The Suns may not be willing to pay Paul $44 million, aware they can get other assets for that sum
- Paul is not retiring and will play in the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season
Chris Paul fell short of winning an NBA title, the only thing that is noticeably missing from his basketball resume. At his age, most feel that it is something that 11-time All-Star would be aiming for, and all that should be clearer this coming offseason.
The cost of winning an NBA title next season could leave the 36-year-old in a spot. He can earn $44 million next season if he exercises his player option with the Suns. However, Phoenix may not be willing to spend that much money, aware they could get one or two players for that huge sum.
If he does opt in, Paul may be hard to trade away. One team that has been suggested is the Los Angeles Lakers. Most know that the purple and gold are looking for a guard to help out LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But with the price tag of $44 million, the chances of a move to the Lakers may be low.
Los Angeles has five players under contract and will be closer to the NBA’s projected $112.4 million salary cap. For Paul to join the Lakers, he would have to opt out and sacrifice big money. Further, he is likely to end up with a smaller financial package if he goes that route.
A sign-and-trade between the Lakers and the Suns is also possible. However, that would entail having to give up several assets that may include players, picks and cash. Looking at this scenario long-term, it may not be a wise move if general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Frank Vogel choose to go this route.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported, citing unnamed sources, that Paul is among the Lakers' targets for this summer, but the most the team would be able to offer him is a $9.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception if a sign-and-trade with the Suns doesn't happen.
Despite this, many are hoping to see Paul sign with the Lakers. Earlier this month, former Lakers great Magic Johnson also pitched a move to the team for Paul.
"If Chris Paul opts out of his contract with the Suns, his first call should be from his best friend LeBron James and the Lakers," Johnson tweeted, adding, "A big three with LeBron, Chris, and AD will equal a NBA championship!"
If Chris Paul opts out of his contract with the Suns, his first call should be from his best friend LeBron James and the Lakers.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson)
The only thing certain right now is that Paul is not retiring and will return next season. However, there is no telling if that would be with the Suns or some other team. Several teams could consider the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year, including the Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls and or even the Miami Heat.
IMG Academy director Dan Barto was among those who are not optimistic about Paul returning to the Suns. He mentioned the three teams as possible stops for Paul and scratched out the New York Knicks.
“I could see him ending up in Utah or Miami, somewhere strange. I don’t see him being in New York. I could even see Chicago,” Barto said when he appeared on the Friday episode of the "Sports For All PH" podcast hosted by Filipino journalists Vincent Juico and Brian Yalung.
He continued, “No pressure on him. He can enjoy his family. Everybody will be happy that the franchise won 10 more, 12 more games. But I don’t see him back in Phoenix.”