Or the 36-year-old Paul could decline his player option, accept a 2021-22 salary reduction and secure more total compensation.
Paul has a $44.4 million player option, which according to several sources, he intends to decline with hopes of inking a new multiyear deal (perhaps in the $100 million range over three seasons). It’s unclear if his recent shoulder injury changes his plans.
In fact, $100 million over three years might be low.
If he opts out, Paul would be eligible for a four-year, $194,551,861 deal with the Suns or a three-year, $136,794,277 deal with another team. (A longer contract would trigger the over-38 rule.)
Paul wants to play at least four more seasons, and this could position him to draw a high salary while doing so.
If Paul opts out, Phoenix would project to have about $27 million in cap space. Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Dennis Schroder, Derrick Rose and Devonte' Graham will be unrestricted free agents. Spencer Dinwiddie (player option) and Goran Dragic (team option) could hit the market. Lonzo Ball (restricted) might be attainable.
Given his age, Paul is not a simple fit with the Suns’ young core (Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson). At some point, Phoenix will need another point guard with that group.
But, for now, retaining Paul would be preferable. The Suns are so good with him. They can figure out the future later.
Of course, cost also factors. Booker is already on a max contract, and Ayton and Bridges will be eligible for big extensions this offseason. Paul’s new deal could send Phoenix into the luxury tax for years. Suns owner Robert Sarver has paid the tax, though not in over a decade.
In the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and up 3-2 on the Lakers, Phoenix has a good thing going. But a new challenge looms: Maintaining success.
Correction: A previous version of this article said Paul would trigger the over-38 rule with a four-year contract with the Suns.