NBA

NBA free agency 2021: Chris Paul officially re-signs with Suns on four-year deal

The Phoenix Suns announced Friday evening the re-signing of Chris Paul, which is expected to be a four-year deal worth up to $120 million, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. Paul originally had a $44 million player option with the Suns for next season, but decided to decline it and officially become a free agent. However, that never precluded him from remaining with the Suns, and now, it’s official that he’ll be spending what remains of his prime in Phoenix.

After agreeing to the deal earlier this week, Paul said simply, “It’s time to get back to work.” He will need some time in order to do so, though, as Marc Spears of The Undefeated reports that Paul had wrist surgery after the NBA Finals. He is expected to be ready for training camp. 

Paul and the Suns had perhaps their most successful seasons ever together. Paul reached the NBA Finals for the first time as a member of the Suns last season. Phoenix tied the 1993 and 1976 Suns for the closest the franchise had ever come to winning the championship. 

Paul’s stellar season played an enormous part in getting the Suns there. Despite turning 36 during the season, Paul still managed to earn Second-Team All-NBA honors. He made his 11th All-Star team in the process, and his stellar performances in Game 4 against the Nuggets and Game 6 against the Clippers helped the Suns close out two of their playoffs series wins. Even if Paul wasn’t quite his usual self in the Finals, Phoenix’s championship hopes for next season still rest firmly on his shoulders. 

This deal should help make the Suns even better for next season. Paul may have guaranteed himself more money overall on this contract, but his salary for next season will drop. That will give the Suns more room beneath the luxury tax line to potentially use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception after retaining backup point guard Cameron Payne, who agreed to a three-year, $19 million pact to stay in Phoenix, which the Suns also announced Friday evening. 

Staying below the tax line this season will be important for Phoenix with extensions likely kicking in for DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges for the 2022-23 season. At that point, the Suns will firmly be in the tax, so delaying the repeater tax clock by an extra year could save the Suns a fair bit of money.

Ultimately, that means this contract will allow the Suns to have their cake and eat it too. They got the short-term savings that they needed, but in the process, they retained their point guard and leader. Phoenix made it to the Finals last season. With the right tweaks, this roster could take that last step and win the whole thing next season. With Paul at the helm, they’re in the best position possible to do that. 



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