A busy NBA Draft day that tipped off early with a blockbuster trade may have ended league-wide skepticism about point guard Chris Paul leaving the Phoenix Suns via free agency.
Paul, who has a player option worth $44 million for next season, could still opt out. However, the Los Angeles Lakers’ agreed upon trade to acquire point guard Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards took a rumored Paul landing spot out of the equation.
“The feeling within the league now is Chris Paul is going to stay put in Phoenix,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast.
“Whether or not he is going to opt out and sign a new deal or extend his contract or whatever, the belief is Chris Paul is not ever going to be on the open market.”Related LinksSuns’ attention turns toward Chris Paul’s decision after NBA Draft
The Lakers — based on speculation only — were viewed as a potential landing spot for Paul because they should be a contending team and are led by one of his good friends, LeBron James. Los Angeles is also where Paul’s family currently resides.
Before the Westbrook trade, however, the financial situation for Paul landing with the Lakers made little sense, as he’d have to either take a significant pay cut or be willingly traded by Phoenix. Now with Westbrook reportedly headed to Los Angeles, the Suns even moreso appear to be the best fit for the point guard. He can sign one more hefty multi-year deal while chasing a title after Phoenix made it to the NBA Finals this past season.
Paul can opt in or out of the one year left on his current deal by Sunday, and free agency negotiations can begin officially on Tuesday.