Chris Paul is having an unexpected breakout season with the Phoenix Suns, and as he leads the team through the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, rumors are swirling over the 36-year-old’s future in the NBA, rekindling the reports linking him to the Miami Heat.
Paul is due an impressive $44.4 million for the 2021-22 NBA season if he stays in Phoenix. However, after having one of the most successful campaigns of his career, Bleacher Report‘s Pincus said that several sources told him that Paul “intends to decline with hopes of inking a new multiyear deal (perhaps in the $100 million range over three seasons).”
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While the much-hyped Paul to Miami trade in 2019 never came to fruition, following the Heat’s embarrassing sweep by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, franchise president Pat Riley might be willing to cash out to obtain the 11-time All-Star. Especially if they’re unable to obtain big names such as Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, or Bradley Beal.
Teaming Paul up with All-Star Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would make the Heat a force to be reckoned with in the East. While on paper Paul is an aging guard in the twilight of his career, the Suns’ star sure isn’t playing like one, and Miami has the money to sign him.
The Heat can have up to $34 million in free agency money if they release both Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala. However, it’s not clear the Suns will let him go.
As Pincus surmised, Phoenix would be wise to keep Paul, even at 36 years old. The Suns need his leadership for the next few years. And since [Deandre] Ayton and [Mikal] Bridges’ potential extensions won’t kick in until the 2022-23 season, the possible luxury tax issues are a future concern. Teams shouldn’t sacrifice today because it might be too expensive tomorrow.”
Miami Heat Only Have 5 Players With Guaranteed Contracts for Next Season
Whether or not Miami is able to snatch Paul out of Phoenix, the franchise is looking to have a major roster shakeup this summer. Only five Heat players have guaranteed salaries for next year:
Butler ($36 million), Adebayo ($28.1 million), Tyler Herro ($4 million), Precious Achiuwa ($2.7 million) and KZ Okpala ($1.8 million).
The biggest question marks for the franchise is how or if they will retain Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, both of whom become restricted free agents this summer, and are expected to net contract offers averaging anywhere from $12 million to $20 million a year.
Back in 2019, the idea of paying $44 million to a 37-year-old player seemed absurd. However, at the time, a source close to Paul told Heavy that he would like to join the Heat, so we know former All-Star MVP is not opposed to possibly finishing out his career in South Beach.