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Chris Paul says he ‘absolutely’ wants to say in Phoenix with Suns

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 14: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on prior to a game against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena on November 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

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Reports leaked out last week that the Phoenix Suns told Chris Paul they were going to try to trade him around the NBA Draft, or at least before the June 28 guarantee date on his contract (CP3 is owed $60.8 million over the next two seasons, but only $15.8 million is guaranteed if he is waived before that date). The reality of the leak made a trade for Paul more difficult (teams that want him can wait for free agency), and it is more likely the team just buys him out.

Paul says he wants to stay in Phoenix. That’s what he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic in an interview this week.

“Absolutely,” Paul said. “That’s why I’m there.”

“I’ve talked with my family, we’ve had conversations about what could be, what might be,” Paul said. “I’ve talked with my agent. Talked to my brother (C.J. Paul).”

Paul may mean that, but it’s also what he should say from a PR standpoint. At this time of year, take every pronouncement from a team, player or agent with a grain of salt.

While there will be CP3 trade rumors the next week, the most likely outcome now is Paul getting bought out by the Suns. If Phoenix waives Paul and pays him the full $15.8 now the team frees up $5 million in cap space (they were that far over the cap) and could re-sign Paul at a lower price. If they waive and stretch his contract they would have just $3.7 million on the books but for five years (freeing up a little more than $12 million in cap space next season), but the Suns cannot re-sign him.

If Paul truly wants to return to the Suns and they want him back — he’s still a 13.9 point, 8.9 assists per game, high IQ player — a deal could be worked out.

That said, if the Suns buy out CP3, he will have plenty of suitors and options. Given his preference to stay near his family in Los Angeles, the Lakers — a team in need of a point guard, especially if they move on from D’Angelo Russell — or a reunion with the Clippers are the logical frontrunners (with the Lakers he gets to play with his friend LeBron James). Both would be for an exception or the veteran minimum, a pay cut for Paul, but that may matter less than the chance to be home and chase a ring.

Paul and the Suns may work something out and he stays in the Valley of the Suns. However, he will have the options to chase what matters to him most.