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The Chris Paul era in Phoenix has come to a close.
In a surprising move, the Suns will reportedly waive the veteran point guard, according to B/R and TNT’s Chris Haynes, making him a free agent.
Haynes also discussed Paul’s next steps:
More than a few people were stunned by the news:
A divorce between Paul and the Suns isn’t necessarily a surprise after ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported May 12 on The Hoop Collective podcast (31:30 mark) that the Suns would “aggressively shop” Paul in trades this summer after a disappointing end to the 2022-23 season.
That they released him and are going to eat the $15.8 million he’s owed in guaranteed money out of his original $30.8 million in base salary, shaving about $15 million in cap space in the process, is where the surprise comes in.
The Suns finished the regular season fourth in the Western Conference with a 45-37 record. They defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs in five games before falling to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals in six games.
Paul, who turned 38 on May 6, missed Phoenix’s final four postseason games while nursing a groin strain.
The Suns acquired Paul and Abdel Nader in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of the 2020-21 season in exchange for Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick.
Phoenix believed Paul would be a great addition to a roster that included Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but he wasn’t the best fit on a team that was able to play at a much faster pace without him.
Paul’s scoring ability had also declined in each of his three seasons with the Suns. While he averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists during the 2020-21 season, he finished the 2022-23 campaign averaging 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists.
With the Suns aiming to shake things up ahead of the 2023-24 season, Paul was widely viewed as the team’s best trade chip. Now, if the Suns intend to further shake up the roster via trades, Ayton would likely be the player the team would dangle in talks.
For now, Cameron Payne is the front-runner to serve as the team’s starting point guard heading into the 2023-24 season, though the Suns likely have a plan to upgrade the position this summer.