Suns All-Star Chris Paul’s contract is not expiring as it has a player option for next year however expectations are that Paul will opt out of it.
Chris Paul contract: Does Suns star deserve long-term deal?
That will make him a free agent and with the way he is playing in the playoffs is it worth offering him a new long term deal at the age of 36? Let’s find out.
Who is Chris Paul?
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city’s basketball team did not have a bright future. Due to the immense damage, the hurricane caused the team to spend the next two years playing in Oklahoma.
Arriving in such a situation and improving things dramatically seems impossible, but it’s not if you’re Chris Paul.
He was a player that the city had not had since Pete Maravich left. In the next 16 years, Chris Paul turned into one of the best point guards of all time and the traits of his game were visible in his first game for the team. In a game between the Hornets and the Kings, Chris Paul orchestrated play, he controlled the tempo and he passed the ball. He shut down Mike Bibby and Bonzi Wells on the defensive end making up for his lack of height and strength.
His IQ was superior, his positioning was superior and his hands were lightning quick. That was not some unforgettable game but it was the first one of a six-year sting in New Orleans where Paul did amazing things.
He helped establish basketball as a legitimate sport in that part of the country, he led the team to the playoffs three times and gave the franchise continuity.
His playoff appearances were filled with disappointing losses by teams who were simply better than his own teams. Playoff defeats somehow became Paul’s destiny.
When he joined the Suns at the start of the season at age 35, it seemed like he would continue with the well-established path of his career. He would get to the playoffs but he would also fail to do anything of note. It was something every Paul hater did not fail to bring up. He was not on Magic’s level, he is not as good as Stockton, Thomas, Kidd or Cousy. He is not even as good as Steve Nash who also never played in the big final but he was closer to it than Paul ever was.
Elevating the Suns
Considering the consensus around the Suns as a good but not great team getting to the Finals seemed impossible.
But it wasn’t and Paul is playing in his first NBA Finals at age 36.
The Suns reached the Finals for the first time since 1993. It did not happen by chance.
Ayton matured, wing defence by Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder helped, the sensational scoring ability of Devin Booker made things easier. Chris Paul commanded his troops with clinical precision on the court. Paul is a player who deserves to win the Finals, but does he deserve a new long term deal? Reports are already suggesting Paul is looking for a multi-year deal after this season? Some teams have already been reported as interested (Knicks).
Let’s see what he did in this past season. He elevated a team filled with immense talent to heights that seemed impossible at the start of the season. He transformed the team within by changing the culture and mentality. The way the young players embraced Paul has nothing to do with basketball. It has everything to do with the person Paul is and his dedication to the game. Deandre Ayton publicly credited Paul for unlocking his potential.
“Nobody pushed me like CP. Like a big brother. He knew what I had and showed me what I did not know I had.”
Paul himself played amazing basketball all season long, narrowly missing out on the 50-40-90 season. Dedicated NBA statisticians calculated that Paul missed out on 40% from three by continually attempting half-court shots at the end of quarters. Had he not done it, he would have finished with a historic mark at age 36 which has never been done.
Final verdict on Chris Paul contract
Is Chris Paul worth another long-term contract? Yes and no.
With everything in life, the context matters most. Chris Paul finished in the top 5 in the MVP voting.
His production on the court have immense value for the ‘right’ team. Not every team but the right one.
He elevated an OKC team to new heights last year. He did the same in a similarly constructed Suns team. Why did it work in the Thunder and the Suns but not the Clippers? It worked because players responded to Paul and followed his guidance.
Paul can do that for any team that is willing to accept the luggage that comes with it. He needs teammates that can carry the scoring load for the majority of the game, and he needs players that will listen and learn. He needs players that will allow him to play the way he wants to play the game. If you give him that he will take your team as high as he can possibly go.
And he is worth every penny of a long-term contract. If you don’t have the right makeup then it’s not worth it as we have seen that scenario in the Clippers.
The team will be good, the team will reach the playoffs but teams that lack the proper chemistry and togetherness rarely can win championships.
Age is another factor to consider. Paul did have one of the best seasons a 36-year-old point guard ever had but that number will only get bigger. By the end of any potential long-term contract, Paul will be on his last legs.
Even so, the NBA is a league of seizing the moment. You might only have one shot at eternal glory and if you don’t take it you will regret it forever. Just ask the Raptors who risked everything and it paid off. The Suns will consider it, the Knicks are considering it, others will flirt with the idea because the ‘Point God’ doesn’t come around often.