Chris Paul contract details: A Suns salary cap and roster update

Aug 5, 2021, 12:15 PM | Updated: 9:25 pm
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, is defended by Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday during the ...

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, is defended by Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday during the second half of Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals, Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Exact dollar figures of Chris Paul’s contract that could reach up to $120 million over four years remain undisclosed.

However, we do have a few more details to understand how the Suns protected themselves while incentivizing Paul.

According to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, the third year of Paul’s deal is partially guaranteed — about $15 million worth. The final season, in which Paul would end the year as a 40-year-old, is a team option.

The third year has approximately $15 million in guarantees, and considering his average annual salary is around $30 million, that puts his total deal at $75 million in total if he only played out two more seasons in Phoenix (2021-22 and 2022-23), per Gambadoro.

Paul would reach around $90 million in earnings after three full years, then $120 million if the Suns bring him back to play out the deal. That would seemingly be a long-shot considering he is only one of three players (LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki) who have signed contracts for $25 million or more per year past the age of 35.

As for this season, Phoenix has so far signed Paul, backup point guard Cam Payne, wing Abdel Nader, big Frank Kaminsky and veteran center JaVale McGee.

Gambadoro confirmed that the team indeed used a chunk of the non-tax-payer midlevel exception to sign McGee on a one-year, $5 million contract.

That leaves them with these financial weapons with 13 players now under contract:

— The remaining midlevel exception money of about $4.5 million from the pool of $9.5 million.

— A bi-annual exception of $3.7 million (this is available because the Suns did not use it last year).

— Veteran’s minimum deals. Their value is dependent on how long a player has been in the league.

It’s unclear if the Suns and general manager James Jones will try to stay under the $136.6 million luxury tax threshold this season, but it’s possible they still can, even by using the above three items.

How doable that is, again, depends on the exact dollar amount on the new deals agreed upon since Monday. Paul’s new deal alone could be a several million-dollar difference depending on if it escalates or descalates.

Phoenix can also, at some point, apply for a disabled player exception for big man Dario Saric, whose ACL injury suffered in July could give them about half of his $8.5 million deal to spent on another player. The NBA must approve that move, and the Suns have yet to apply.

There are currently 13 players under contract or with agreed-upon deals as of Tuesday afternoon. The Suns can sign up to two more, not including two-way players.

Here’s a look at the depth chart as of Tuesday:

PG: Chris Paul, Cam Payne

SG: Devin Booker, Landry Shamet

SF: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Abdel Nader

PF: Jae Crowder, Jalen Smith

C: Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee, Frank Kaminsky, (Dario Saric)

What more is there left to uncover about the sustainability of this Suns team?

Well, potential contract extensions to Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges loom. If they are agreed upon and the numbers are known, it will be easier to project how much over the luxury tax Phoenix will be in the coming seasons after each of their rookie contracts end in 2021-22.

What we know now, though, is that the Suns at least put a partial guarantee on Paul’s massive deal in 2023-24.

As of now, it appears the 2022-23 season will be a surely pricey one if they keep this core together. There seem to be solid protections after that.

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