Chris Paul reportedly told he will be waived by Phoenix Suns
Jun 7, 2023, 2:43 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm
The Phoenix Suns notified Chris Paul that he will be waived, Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported on Wednesday.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Suns are exploring three different possibilities: waiving Paul, stretching and waiving Paul and trading Paul.
Paul’s contract is guaranteed for only $15.8 million of $30.8 million total for 2023-24. The Suns could get off about half that by waiving him and have the ability to stretch the remainder of his contract over the next several years.
Paul can be claimed on waivers by another team. If he clears waivers, the Suns could re-sign Paul to a smaller deal at the veteran’s minimum.
Stretching the deal would open up all but about $3.2 million of that projected $30.8 million. If Phoenix stretches Paul’s contract by waiving him, it cannot re-sign him. Both scenarios open up tools for the Suns to use in free agency.
The team has a June 28 deadline to make a final call before his contract becomes fully guaranteed.
The report of the move comes a day after the Suns introduced new head coach Frank Vogel.
“The quarterback nature and leadership he brings to the table is just immeasurable, honestly. And the toughness,” Vogel said of Paul on Wolf & Luke on Tuesday. “He’s one of the hardest competitors this league has ever seen.
“When you have guys like Kevin and Devin who are such prolific scorers, you need somebody out there who can really quarterback the action and help the coach put those guys in the right positions to be at their best. I am really looking forward to working with Chris and think he’s going to be a big part of this.”
Paul is coming off the worst season of his career, a testament to his consistency over 18 years.
He averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game at 37 years old.
The scoring was a career-low and Paul’s 44% shooting is the fourth-lowest efficiency of his career.
“Honestly, (president of basketball operations and GM) James Jones handles all that stuff,” Suns owner Mat Ishbia told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday when asked about the futures of Paul and center Deandre Ayton. “I’m going to be involved and get his opinions on it. We have not had a bunch of conversations around that stuff right now.
“First off, Chris Paul is an ultimate winner, one of the best point guards ever to play. Deandre Ayton, an up-and-coming star — he’s already a star — could be a superstar and I think very highly of him. That being said, we have to have all those conversations and understand the overall construct with our team, with our head coach, with our organization, with our organization. We haven’t gone through those conversations yet.”
A drop-off in Paul’s ability was inevitable at some point, given he is now at the age of 38. This was more or less expected when Paul was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2020 but he arrived and played some of his best basketball ever.
Paul was an MVP candidate in his debut Suns season and made Second Team All-NBA. A year later, Paul led the league in assists per game and finished Third Team All-NBA for a 64-win squad.
Paul’s contract is a factor in this equation. The four-year extension he signed in 2021 had the third season partially guaranteed. The last year, another $30 million, is a team option.
A career-long issue for Paul with postseason injuries persisted in all three of his Suns seasons. In 2021, Paul injured his right shoulder. While coming down with COVID-19 was something everyone in the world was dealing with, he also had an apparent hard injury that was later a left wrist he had surgery on to repair partially torn ligaments.
The next year, Paul’s effectiveness dropped off considerably in the second round and ESPN’s Marc J. Spears reported it was a left quad injury he was playing through. And then last postseason, Paul strained his left groin in Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets and missed the last four games of the season.
All of his will unfortunately overshadow the incredible playoff moments Paul had over his time in the Valley.
Paul was masterful in the conference semifinals against the Nuggets two seasons ago, posting 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 turnovers an outing in the four-game sweep. For the Western Conference Finals, Paul bounced back from his two-game absence due to COVID-19 and masterfully closed out the Los Angeles Clippers with a 41-point, eight-assist and zero-turnover clinic in Game 6. While his play tailed off in the NBA Finals, Paul was 22-for-39 from the field in the first two games (both Suns wins).
When Devin Booker went down with a hamstring injury in Game 2 of the first round the following year, Paul produced 28 points, 14 assists and zero turnovers in Phoenix’s first game without Booker, a Game 3 victory in New Orleans. In another closeout classic, Paul’s Game 6 was a perfect 14-of-14 shooting performance with 33 points, eight assists and two turnovers.
Paul is a first ballot Hall of Famer and not only one of the best point guards of all time but point blank one of the best players ever. He is a 12-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA honoree, nine-time All-Defensive team member, six-time steals champ and five-time assist champ. On the league’s all-time leaderboards, Paul is third in assists and steals.
At the moment, Paul will go down as the top player in league history not to win a championship. The 2021 run was his first NBA Finals appearance. His career has included some rotten luck. Paul’s 2018 Houston Rockets were up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals before Paul got hurt and was out for the last two games, both losses. The same could be said for his injuries in 2021 after Phoenix had a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.