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Report: Chris Paul intends to decline $44,211,146 player option with Suns

Suns guard Chris Paul

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 1: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks up against the Los Angeles Lakers during Round 1, Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 1, 2021 at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Suns point guard Chris Paul – with a $44,211,146 player option – could be the third-highest-paid player in the NBA next season (behind Stephen Curry and John Wall and tied with Russell Westbrook).

Or the 36-year-old Paul could decline his player option, accept a 2021-22 salary reduction and secure more total compensation.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:

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.

Paul has looked healthier since hurting his shoulder. If he already decided to decline the option this far in advance, it seems unlikely the injury is significant enough to change his mind.

A quality leader and ace point guard, Paul is one of the NBA’s most valuable players. His effect in Phoenix has been immense. This summer would be a great time to capitalize on his high stock.

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.