After 16 seasons in the NBA, Chris Paul made his first NBA Finals appearance with the Phoenix Suns. Widely considered one of the best point guards in league history, the one knock on his record is having never won a championship. He came so close this season but was stopped dead in his tracks by a legendary Giannis Antetokounmpo Finals run with the Milwaukee Bucks. At 36 years old, Paul’s championship window is closing.
The star guard is eligible to hit free agency this offseason and has to think carefully about what he’ll do next. The Suns caught some major breaks in the playoffs this season and will likely have a much tougher road to the Finals as Western Conference stars Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Jamal Murray and Kawhi Leonard return to health for the 2022 season.
Paul has avoided joining a superteam throughout his career but it could be his only viable path to a championship before he retires.
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Paul Not Retiring: ‘Back to Work’
Though Paul is one of the older players in the league, he is still playing at a very high level, finishing tied for the third-most assists per game (8.9) while averaging a healthy 16.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest for Phoenix. He even received MVP votes for his performance this season. He’s still got some juice left in the tank and made it clear he has no intention of quitting basketball quite yet.
“It will take a while to process this and whatnot, but it’s the same mentality — get back to work,” Paul told reporters after Tuesday’s series loss to the Bucks. “I ain’t retiring if that’s what you’re asking. That’s out. Back to work.”
That doesn’t come as surprise. Nobody expected Paul to hang up his sneakers quite yet. However, it remains to be seen if he’ll be spending his last productive years in Phoenix.
Would Paul Coming to L.A. Guarantee a Championship?
If Paul is going to give up on his dream of winning a championship without a superteam, he’s going to have to make sure he picks the right situation. Johnson believes that teaming up with LeBron and Davis will guarantee him a ring.
“A big three with LeBron, Chris, and AD will equal a NBA championship,” the Lakers legend tweeted.
LeBron and Paul are 36 right now so they only have so many years left. It would be interesting to see the two close friends get a chance to play together. However, this “big three” would have concerns; notably all three players’ injury histories. After being an iron man for his entire 18-year career, LeBron has dealt with serious injuries in two of the last three seasons. Davis just had his playoffs derailed by a groin injury after missing most of the season due to a gimpy calf. Paul has a long history of getting banged up as well, playing at least 70 games in only nine of 16 seasons.
If they could all stay healthy, this team would be close to unstoppable. However, there’s no guarantee that would happen.