A championship is the only thing missing from Chris Paul‘s Hall of Fame résumé, but the Suns guard may be running out of time to get one, writes Doug Haller of The Athletic. Paul will turn 38 next month, and his contract for 2023/24 is only 50% guaranteed at $15.4MM. The acquisition of Kevin Durant in February puts Phoenix among the favorites in the West, but there’s a chance this could be Paul’s last year with the team.
The veteran point guard said Saturday that he’s trying to block out those concerns, focusing only on the playoff challenges that lie ahead.
“For me, I’m going to compete day-in and day-out. And right now we got a one-track mind, and that’s to focus on Game 1 against the Clippers,’’ he said. “All that other stuff, that ain’t it right now.”
Paul addressed the championship issue after the Suns were eliminated last spring, Haller adds, saying that it bothered him more earlier in his career but now he feels fortunate to be able to play at a high level for so long. However, now that playoff season is here again, he’s ready to go all out.
“When you play for a while and it doesn’t go the way you want it to, you basically wait a whole year for another opportunity at it,’’ he said. “It starts now.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Klay Thompson “has an expectation” that the Warriors will offer him a max-level contract extension this summer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Saturday’s “NBA Countdown” (video link). Thompson has one more year on his current deal at $43.2 MM and can become a free agent in 2024 if he doesn’t get an offer that he likes. Wojnarowski notes that the extension decision for Thompson will be influenced by luxury tax concerns, the uncertain status of general manager Bob Myers, whose contract will expire after this season, and punitive restrictions in the new CBA against the highest-spending teams.
- The seventh-seeded Lakers had to go through the play-in tournament to reach the playoffs, but they don’t feel like underdogs against No. 2 seed Memphis, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. L.A. is playing its best basketball of the season, winning 10 of its last 12 games. “I think seeding doesn’t matter,” Anthony Davis said. “Once you get in, it’s all about matchups and things like that.”
- Trade deadline acquisition Bones Hyland could be a difference maker for the Clippers in their playoff run, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. The second-year guard averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 assists off the bench in his last nine games to help the team wrap up the fifth seed. “He’s not scared and that’s the first step in being a good player is just not being scared, not being afraid of the moment,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “He’s not afraid of the moment. He’s not afraid of the big shots.”