The Suns acquired CP3 with the expectation that it was a one-year experiment with the hope for potentially more. But now, as he could capture his first NBA championship and potentially opt-out of his $44.2 million player option next season, the Suns are forced to pay the 36-year-old guard a maximum contract to fend off other potential suitors such as the New York Knicks. Here's why.
Chris Paul Landed in the Perfect Spot
It turned out to be the perfect place for Paul.
The Suns found immediate success with the CP3 leading the charge, grabbing their first playoff berth in a decade after securing the Western Conference’s second overall seed.
Phoenix has followed it with an impressive run through the playoffs, earning the first trip to the NBA Finals in 28 years. Yes, the journey to the finals came against opponents all battered by injuries, it doesn’t take away from the massive feat.
The Engine Behind The Suns' Deep Playoff Run
Throughout his first 15 seasons, Paul earned a strong reputation for his struggles with health and shortcomings in the playoffs.
Before the 2021 playoffs, he reached the conference finals once in his career, and that saw a hamstring injury derail a chance to reach the NBA Finals. This time around, Paul worked past those issues and even an extended absence due to testing positive for COVID-19.
The star guard has been a huge factor in guiding the Suns to the NBA Finals. In 17 playoff games, he’s averaging 19.2 points and 8.7 assists while shooting 49% from the floor and 43.1% from three-point range.
He put up some huge performances in closeout games. He posted 37 points and seven assists in the Game 4 win over the Denver Nuggets to earn a Western Conference Finals berth. Paul then sealed the deal for the Suns in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers by tallying a game-high 41 points.
The 11-time All-Star has stepped up when the stage is brightest to push the Suns toward championship contention.
CP3 Changed The Culture
Beyond his production and presence, Paul completely changed the Suns' culture.
Before his arrival, Phoenix was a team filled with promising talent, but Paul’s taken full control of a leadership role that has been pivotal to their young talent’s growth.
Booker has shown increased maturity as a player and greater confidence in his ability. Meanwhile, Ayton credited Paul for being exactly what he needed to take his play to the next level.
"I love CP, man. Like I said, that's really the only teammate that really push me. Like big bro-type push. Knowing what I got and that I ain't never thought that I had," Ayton told CBS Sports. "I think he was the best thing that happened to my career. I can say that every day.
Paul’s impact goes well beyond what the Suns had ever anticipated, and it has the team on the brink of securing its first NBA title.
Despite his advancing age, Paul has so far defeated Father Time and proved he deserves a max contract this offseason. If the Suns don't give it to him, another team surely will.
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