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Chris Paul is thinking green.
The Suns point guard “intends to decline” his $44.2 million player option for 2021-22 to chase a bigger pay day and a multi-year deal as a free agent this summer, according to Bleacher Report.
Paul is hoping to land a deal in the $100 million range over three seasons, sources told the site.
Though he has been the impetus for the Suns’ turnaround and current playoff run — they’re up 2-0 in their second-round series against the Clippers — Paul’s age could hinder his nine-figure contract hopes.
He turned 36 in May, which is a possible red flag for a long-term deal, as is his injury history, especially in the postseason. Paul is playing through a nagging shoulder injury in the conference semifinals.
Paul will be coming off his 11th All-Star selection and a fifth-place finish in MVP voting in 2020-21.
One team that could potentially have an eye on Paul is the Knicks, who are in desperate need of a point guard and a star alongside Julius Randle. The Knicks will have between $50 million and $60 million in cap space as they look to add to a roster that produced this season’s surprising 41-31 record and the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013.
Knicks president Leon Rose is Paul’s former agent and the two have a great relationship.
“I was excited,” Paul said in March 2020 when Rose left Creative Artists Agency to become Knicks president. “I was surprised like everybody else. [Rose] has been with me for a long time through a lot of different things, and I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”
Some NBA executives have projected Paul’s next deal to fall in the three-year, $60 million area, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.
Paul’s veteran presence and mentorship has created a much-needed culture shift in Phoenix — Devin Booker, Torrey Craig, and Jae Crowder, along with rising stars in Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, have benefitted from Paul’s leadership. How far he is able to lead the Suns could impact his decision. A $100 million contract could be more feasible if Paul is coming off an NBA championship or even a Finals run.
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