Chris Paul's future with the Phoenix Suns has been up in the air ever since their second-round loss to the Denver Nuggets. Paul's contract is only partially guaranteed, with $15 million of his $30.8 million salary available to be saved if he is waived. Reports earlier this offseason indicated that the Suns planned to do just that, but the Suns have since denied those claims and Paul's fate remains unsettled.
If it is up to Paul, though, he would like to find a way to remain with the Suns. "I don't want to be anywhere else," Paul told NBC 12 in Phoenix. "You've never heard me come in and say I don't want to be here you know what I mean. But I understand the business of this league, the dynamics or whatnot. So we'll see."
For now, the Suns have four realistic options:
- They could trade Paul, either as matching salary in a deal for a big-name player, or to a team that would plan to waive him.
- They could simply keep Paul at his $30.8 million cap figure.
- They could waive Paul and attempt to re-sign him, which would set his new cap figure at whatever his new salary is plus $15 million in dead salary. Through this method, the Suns could pay Paul up to $27.2 million in total: $15 million in dead salary plus the $12.2 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, assuming the Suns can stay below the first luxury tax apron.
- They could waive Paul and stretch his remaining salary over five seasons, which would lower his cap figure to around $3.2 million for next season. However, if the Suns waived and stretched Paul, they would not be allowed to re-sign him.
Paul led the Suns to the Finals in 2021, but the current Suns might represent his best chance yet at a championship. Phoenix acquired Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, and with Devin Booker coming into his prime, the Suns are expected to be among the Western Conference favorites next season. However, Paul is now 38. He's declined considerably even since that 2021 Finals season, and the Suns have an extremely thin roster. If their only path to fill out the rest of the team involves moving off of his contract, they are going to consider it regardless of what he wants.