It was always most likely Chris Paul would go back to the Phoenix Suns, but he did he still use an offer from elsewhere as leverage?
With the virtual certainty he would decline his player option for next season, a return to the Phoenix Suns was always the most likely scenario for Chris Paul. He ultimately did just that, signing a four-year deal reportedly worth up to $120 million.
The move to trade for Paul last offseason paid off for the Suns, as they made the NBA Finals off a strong showing in last season’s bubble. His impact was equal parts tangible and intangible, as a leader and mentor for Phoenix’s young stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Not bringing him back, as long as Paul wanted to come back, would have been malpractice for the Suns’ front office.
Did Chris Paul use leverage against the Suns?
Rumors of Paul joining his buddy LeBron James on the Lakers or signing with the Knicks were easy. But it looks like an offer from one his former teams gave him leverage on the Suns.
On the Hoop Collective Podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst offered the following nugget.
“Chris Paul, who [New Orleans] offered $100 million from what I understand. It helped convince Phoenix to give him at least [a] partially guaranteed fourth year… I think Chris entertained it for some period of time.”
On the surface, an offer from the Pelicans seems to have given Paul the leverage to ring a partially guaranteed fourth year out of the Suns. But, according to Spotrac, the reality is only two years of the four-year deal are fully guaranteed. Half of Paul’s $31 million salary for 2023-24 is guaranteed, and 2024-25 is a $33.2 million team option.
Getting down to it, Paul made the easy trade of $44 million on his one-year option for at least $71.2 million guaranteed over three years. The idea a $100 million offer from the Pelicans, presumably over three years, got the Suns to lock all the way into a fourth year is simply not rooted in the details that are out there.