Chris Paul Expected To Decline Player Option

Suns point guard Chris Paul intends to turn down his player option for the 2021/22 season in order to seek a new contract, multiple sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Opting out will make Paul an unrestricted free agent this summer.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2021/22]

The value of that ’21/22 option is $44.2MM, which is more than Paul has ever earned in a single season and would be one of the highest salaries in the NBA. A year or two ago, the 36-year-old was considered a virtual lock to pick up that option. But back-to-back All-Star seasons in Oklahoma City and Phoenix have buoyed his stock, putting him in position to secure one last multiyear deal.

Pincus suggests that Paul might be seeking a contract in the range of $100MM over three years. Essentially, he’d be taking the same route that Gordon Hayward did a year ago, or that Al Horford did in 2019 — turning down an option and accepting a slightly lesser short-term salary, but adding more years to his contract and substantially increasing the overall guarantee.

It’s possible that Paul’s plans could change between now and his decision deadline on August 1. Pincus notes that it’s unclear whether CP3’s recent shoulder injury might alter his thinking, for example.

However, even after re-injuring that right shoulder in Game 5, Paul seemed relatively “OK,” as head coach Monty Williams confirmed after Tuesday’s game (Twitter link via Gina Mizell). He’s listed as probable for Game 6 on Thursday night, and there’s no expectation he won’t play, so I imagine it would take a more serious injury for him to seriously consider changing course and picking up his option.

Given the success they’ve had with Paul this season, the Suns will almost certainly push to re-sign the veteran guard if and when he opts out. Phoenix has the cap flexibility to accommodate a new deal for CP3, though the club will face a number of major contract decisions this offseason and may be wary of tacking on too many years, with Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges up for extensions.

Multiple sources told Pincus they believe Ayton is worth the max, while Bridges could be in line for a salary in the range of $20MM per year.

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