When Chris Paul declined his $44.1 million player option for the 2021-22 season, the assumption was that his re-signing with the Phoenix Suns on a multi-year deal was a formality. But it appears Paul considered at least one other substantial offer, with Brian Windhorst reporting on his "Hoop Collective" podcast that the New Orleans Pelicans threw three years and $100 million at Paul.
"And Chris Paul, who [the Pelicans] offered $100 million from what I understand," Windhorst said. "It helped convince Phoenix to give him at least [a] partially guaranteed fourth year. ... I think Chris entertained it for some period of time."
Paul ultimately went back to Phoenix on a four-year deal that could be worth up to $120 million, but only the first two years are fully guaranteed. The third year is reportedly guaranteed for $15 million, and the fourth year is a team option. In other words, Paul is sure to receive $75 million.
There's no word on whether the New Orleans offer included similar escape routes for the team on the back end of the deal, but on the surface it's interesting that Paul could've gotten a higher annual salary to go play with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. If New Orleans was also offering that contract fully guaranteed, Paul had to have considered that as a viable option.
To Windhorst's point, this was likely a leverage move on Paul's part to force Phoenix into committing to at least the extra $15 million beyond the first two years of the new deal. After all, Paul will be 38 years old halfway through this contract, and 40 if Phoenix picks up the final year. Yes, he was fantastic this season, but declines can happen fast at this stage of a career.
For New Orleans, this is two older big-name point guards they've reportedly whiffed on. The pursued Kyle Lowry, too. In the end, after losing restricted free agent Lonzo Ball to the Bulls, they wound up bringing in Devonte' Graham via a sign-and-trade with the Hornets on a reported four-year, $47 million deal to fill their vacant point guard slot.