Chris Paul Could Use Knicks as Leverage In Contract Talks with Suns, Says Wojnarowski

Adam WellsMay 18, 2021

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Chris Paul may choose to stay with the Phoenix Suns, but the 11-time All-Star could reportedly bring another team into contract discussions to increase his negotiating power. 

On the latest episode of The Woj Pod (starts at 49:00 mark), ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Paul could use the New York Knicks as leverage in talks with the Suns. 

Wojnarowski did note it's "hard" to see Paul leaving Phoenix because he "wanted to be there" before the Suns acquired him from the New Orleans Pelicans last offseason. 

The 36-year-old can become a free agent this offseason by declining his $44.2 million player option for 2021-22. 

New York has long been linked to Paul dating back to last season when he was with the Pelicans. Leon Rose used to be Paul's agent before he was hired as Knicks president in March 2020. 

SNY's Ian Begley reported in April 2020 that people in the Knicks organization felt that adding Paul "at this time would jump-start the franchise's effort to build a winning culture."

The Knicks have had a breakthrough season in 2020-21 under head coach Tom Thibodeau without Paul. They went 41-31 during the regular season and are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

A high-end starting point guard is a position of need for the Knicks. Elfrid Payton started a majority of the time for Thibodeau, but the 27-year-old only averaged 10.1 points on 43.2 percent shooting and 3.2 assists per game in 63 starts. 

Derrick Rose, who was acquired in a February trade with the Detroit Pistons, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The 32-year-old has started only three of 35 games with the team, averaging 14.9 points and 4.2 assists per game.

Paul's arrival sparked the Suns' rise to prominence in the Western Conference. They are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and won the Pacific Division title for the first time since 2006-07. 

In 70 starts this season, Paul averaged 16.4 points on 49.9 percent shooting with 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.