DALLAS - Coming off a surprise run to the 2021 NBA Finals, the Phoenix Suns enter the offseason with Chris Paul's free agency looming large.
Paul is widely expected to decline his $44.2 million player option in order to sign a new contract. While it is likely he returns to the Suns, there is attention being placed on potential landing spots if he were to depart.
During an appearance on SportsCenter, ESPN's Bobby Marks made it clear the Suns are in the 'driver's seat' to keep Paul, but the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat could be options in free agency.
“I think if Phoenix elects to play hardball with Paul, we’re looking at teams like New York, his former agent Leon Rose is the president,” said ESPN’s Bobby Marks. “Paul can potentially earn up to $43 million to go to New York. You’re looking at teams like Dallas, you’re looking at potentially the Miami Heat, but I would still put Phoenix in the driver’s seat, even if Paul does enter free agency in early August here.”
The Los Angeles Lakers have previously been linked to Paul as a potential landing spot largely due to his friendship with LeBron James. Due to potential hard cap implications, this is an outcome that appears to be highly unlikely.
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The most the Lakers could offer Paul is $9.5 million using the taxpayer midlevel exception. That would be far less competitive than what a team like the Mavericks could offer -- making them among the few teams to watch under a specific context.
The Mavericks will need to be careful they are not being used for leverage purposes in free agency discussions all for Paul to just end up making a return to the Suns, as he's expected to do. This is a possibility that has been mentioned for what Paul could do to the Knicks. That "leverage scenario'' could clog Dallas' path to adding a player who actually wishes to be here.
Chris Paul would be an intriguing option for the Mavericks since he'd be as ideal of a secondary ball handler as there is out there. Luka Doncic would be able to play more within the flow of the offense, which could go a long way.
This sort of Mavs addition is needed. It just is unlikely to be Paul.