Chris Paul won’t be leaving the Valley. The Point God agreed to re-sign with the Suns on Monday, declining the final year of his current contract to ink a new, four-year deal worth “up to” $120 million, Paul confirmed to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. In his first season with the Suns, Paul averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game. He finished fifth in MVP voting during the regular season before leading Phoenix to the Finals. Let’s grade the signing for the Suns.
As arguably the world’s foremost Chris Paul fan, I certainly don’t think this is an awful signing, though it’s surprising to say the least. First, I’m happy for Paul, who is getting absolutely PAID less than two years after he many alleged he had the worst contract in the league. Since then, Paul played so well for the Thunder and Suns he was able to end that deal on his own terms and then sign this massive one. Congrats to him for betting on himself and winning.
For Phoenix, James Jones’s team is about to get expensive. While Paul’s annual salary is actually going down next season, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Cam Johnson are all due extensions during the life of CP3’s deal. Add Devin Booker to the mix, and keeping the core of the team that just made the Finals together is going to dig deep into Robert Sarver’s pockets. The risk of the Paul contract is if the money is so big it makes the Suns hesitant to pay some of the younger guys down the line. Sarver has balked at big payrolls before, and on top of that, teams over the cap have fewer avenues to add talent to their roster.
Having said all of that, Phoenix couldn’t let Paul walk after its run to the Finals. We saw what he could do on the floor this season, helping elevate the Suns and pushing Ayton to become the best version of himself. Keeping Paul should also help the front office bring in players who want to play for a contender, with him and Booker serving as beacons for future free agents.
Meanwhile, as the cap space-laden Knicks and Pelicans lurked, the Suns couldn’t take a chance on letting Paul take meetings around the league. And with some of the other West contenders in flux—can the Lakers shoot? Will the Nuggets and Clippers be healthy?—Phoenix should be able to keep its title window open for at least a couple more seasons.