Chris Paul can opt out of the final year of his contract this summer, but don’t expect him to leave the Phoenix Suns for the New York Knicks.
It makes sense that Chris Paul’s name continually comes up in relation to big-market NBA teams like the New York Knicks. The Knicks are used to paying boatloads of money for older point guards, and unlike in years past, they’re actually an attractive free-agency destination these days thanks to Julius Randle, Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau, their recent playoff appearance and the allure of the Big Apple itself.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, agents around the NBA “fear” that New York may be a possible landing spot for Paul, who can opt out of the final year and $41.4 million of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Turning down that much money seems like a risky bet for a 36-year-old point guard with a history of injuries, but Paul played all but two games with the Phoenix Suns this season and has led them back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993. Between this remarkable Finals run and last year’s playoff run with the Oklahoma City Thunder, his impact and value to younger teams looking to break through has never been clearer. It makes sense the Knicks would want him as one of their top targets to have a similar effect on New York’s young nucleus.
Don’t expect Chris Paul to go anywhere
As much as the Knicks’ interest makes sense, and as much as Paul would undoubtedly have a similar impact on their younger core, it’s highly unlikely CP3 is heading to the Big Apple this summer.
For starters, Paul has spoken glowingly about the Suns organization and his teammates all season long. He wanted to be traded to Phoenix last summer because of what he saw in Devin Booker, a similarly fiery competitor, and their bond has only increased with time and a whole season of success together.
It’s not just the face of the franchise either; Paul has deep relationships with Deandre Ayton, who he said he “genuinely loves” after the two worked through some rough patches early in the season, and he’s said that younger, goofier guys on the team like Mikal Bridges and Cameron Payne are like his kids. The way he raves about his teammates, it’s hard to see him leaving them behind for an entirely new set of youngsters.
Throw in the team success he’s had in Phoenix, where he’ll be playing in his first NBA Finals, plus his relationship with head coach Monty Williams, who coached him in New Orleans early in his career, and it’s hard to see Paul leaving that kind of situation where the culture, team success and personal relationships all align so perfectly.
If he opts out, it will most likely just be to cash in with the Suns, who should absolutely be prepared to offer him a two- or even three-year deal to keep the good vibes going. Yes, paying an aging point guard upwards of $30 million a year is a risk, but given this team’s Finals berth this year, and especially if the Suns win their first-ever championship, it’s hard to see either party wanting to break up a good thing. It would take a nightmare scenario where owner Robert Sarver suddenly got stingy and actively pushed Paul away, which is hard to see happening at this point.
In other words, don’t get your hopes up, Knicks fans.