Chris Paul Reportedly Agrees to 4-Year, $120M Suns Contract After NBA Finals Run

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2021

DENVER, CO - JUNE 13:  Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns dribbles against the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 13, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Chris Paul will be back to help the Phoenix Suns defend their Western Conference title.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported the veteran point guard has agreed to a four-year, $120 million deal to return to Phoenix.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium noted Aug. 1 that Paul was opting out of his contract and turning down his $44.2 million player option. 

Given his age (36), it was a sensible move because this might be his last shot to cash in with a big multiyear contract. And by taking a lower salary for next season, he could increase his overall payout and have a level of assurance about his future.

Spotrac @spotrac

It’s the right decision for his career/team, but the notion that a 36 year old Chris Paul just turned down $44.2M (39% of the league cap) says an awful lot about how far the #NBA has come, and how good things can be when the league & player’s association gel.

Phoenix acquired Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder in hopes he could raise the franchise's ceiling and provide leadership for a young, up-and-coming roster. Still, few expected the future Hall of Famer to have the kind of impact he did.

He averaged 16.4 points and 8.9 assists in 70 games. He also shot 49.9 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Suns, meanwhile, won 51 games and finished second in the Western Conference.

Even though Phoenix fell short against the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals, its postseason run served as another reminder why Paul is one of the greatest point guards of his era. He dropped 37 points on the Denver Nuggets to close out the conference semifinals and then put up 41 against his old team, the Los Angeles Clippers, in the Western Conference Finals.

There's obviously a level of risk in assuming this can continue for Paul, though.

It wasn't that long ago that Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly described Paul's four-year, $160 million contract as one of the worst he'd ever seen. That description was a bit over the top, but his general sentiment echoed the fact that some people thought the 6'0" playmaker was on the decline and a bit of a sunk cost following his departure from Houston.

Sooner or later, that decline will become a reality because it's inevitable for every professional athlete. 

For the Suns, though, there wasn't much debate to be had in terms of aggressively ensuring Paul would return.

Phoenix's window of contention should extend beyond the next year or two since Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are all 24 or younger.

But that kind of success can never be taken for granted. It's also important for the Suns to show the 2020-21 season wasn't a mirage in terms of genuinely competing for a title.

The Orlando Magic won the Eastern Conference in 2008-09 and then reached the conference finals in 2009-10. The following year, their title window was quickly slamming shut.

Speaking with Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill in 2018, Booker offered a comment that could prove prophetic.

"I'd like to build a superteam," he said. "I'd like the superteam to come to me."

Historically, the Suns haven't been a marquee free-agent destination or a landing spot for disgruntled stars. That perception could begin to shift if their young core shows this past year was no fluke.