The future of Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul was only in doubt for just minutes following their Game 7 loss against the Dallas Mavericks.
The 37-year-old future Hall of Fame player had regressed in his performance since Game 3 of the Dallas series, and Game 7's outing was just icing on top of the poorly-baked cake Paul and the rest of the Suns had assembled.
"I think we just came out and just didn't have enough," said Paul after the game on Sunday. "I think Mont (Monty Williams) said that's on him, but I think that's on me, as the point guard, the leader of the team. To come out and make sure you're getting the right shots and all that."
The Suns nearly returned to the Western Conference Finals for a second straight year, although many feel as if Phoenix's championship window is beginning to close.
Paul wasn't having any of that.
"You play long enough and you don't win, every time you lose, they're going to say it was your best chance. But I think for me, us, it's we'll be right back next year. I'll tell you that much," said Paul before confirming he would return to the court.
"I'm not retiring tomorrow, thank God. Hopefully, I'm healthy coming back. But I'm [going to] keep playing."
While Paul seems extremely likely to be on the Suns' roster next season, the beginning of 2023 and beyond is where it gets interesting. Phoenix has structured his deal to help the organization off the hook after next season if needed.
Remaining Years of Chris Paul's Contract
2022-23 = $28.4 million fully guaranteed
2023-24 = $30.8 million with $15.8 million guaranteed
2024-25 = $30.0 million (none guaranteed)
The Suns would only be on the hook for about half of Paul's $30.8 million hit should they cut him before the beginning of the 2023-24 season, as his deal would become fully guaranteed on 6/28/2023.
The last year of Paul's deal would see no guaranteed money attributed to Phoenix's cap if he's waived by 6/28/2024. After that date, the deal becomes fully guaranteed.
Of course, a lot of things can happen between now and the end of Paul's deal with the Suns. At this moment in time, it's unlikely he finishes his deal with Phoenix.
The uncertainty of this offseason with the financial futures of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton potentially searching for supermax deals/extensions could also play a role in how the Suns go about their business with Paul.
Nobody truly knows how this offseason will pan out for any of the three aforementioned players, as the Suns have quite the amount of decisions ahead of them.