The Suns‘ season ended in embarrassing fashion on Sunday night in Game 7 at home vs. Dallas, falling behind by 30 points by halftime and trailing by as many as 46 in the second half before losing by a score of 123-90. After yet another Game 7 loss for Chris Paul, the 37-year-old point guard made it clear he has every intention of returning to Phoenix next season and trying to right the ship.
“You play long enough and you don’t win, every time you lose, they’re going to say it was your best chance,” Paul said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “But I think for me, us, it’s we’ll be right back next year. I’ll tell you that much. I’m not retiring tomorrow, thank God. Hopefully, I’m healthy coming back. But I’m (going to) keep playing.”
Paul had a poor showing on Sunday, recording just 10 points and four assists and failing to score his first field goal until the Suns were down by 40 points. He played through a left quad injury that limited his mobility, sources tell ESPN’s McMenamin and Marc J. Spears (Twitter link).
In his post-game comments to reporters, Suns head coach Monty Williams took responsibility for the Suns’ sluggish performance and for the loss, but Paul said the blame should fall on his own shoulders.
“I think we just came out and just didn’t have enough,” Paul said, according to McMenamin. “I think Mont said that’s on him, but I think that’s on me, as the point guard, the leader of the team. To come out and make sure you’re getting the right shots and all that.”
Paul has a $28.4MM guaranteed salary for next season, followed by a partially guaranteed $30.8MM salary in ’23/24 and a non-guaranteed $30MM salary in ’24/25.
Here’s more on the Suns:
- Suns center Deandre Ayton was pulled early in the third quarter on Sunday and didn’t return to the game after exchanging words with Williams on the sidelines, according to McMenamin, who notes that the former No. 1 overall pick logged just 17 minutes, the third-fewest minutes he has played in a game since entering the league.
- Asked after the game about the reason for Ayton’s limited playing time, Williams curtly responded, “It’s internal.” It’s an ominous ending to the season for Ayton, who will be a restricted free agent this summer and will likely be seeking a maximum-salary contract or something close to it.
- Ayton’s upcoming free agency will be the primary focus for the Suns this summer, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) details in his offseason preview. With Ayton up for a new deal and Devin Booker and Cameron Johnson both eligible for extensions, Phoenix’s roster could start to get very expensive, Marks observes.
- In his own preview of the Suns’ offseason, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype also examines potential new contracts for Ayton, Booker, and Johnson.
- The Suns could have used injured forward Dario Saric in their series vs. Dallas, suggests John Hollinger of The Athletic, writing that the team was ultimately undone by its lack of perimeter lineups to counteract the Mavericks’ “space ball” approach. Dallas often employed lineups with five capable three-point shooters, reducing the defensive impact of Suns centers Ayton and JaVale McGee.