On Thursday night, the Phoenix Suns were eliminated on their floor in the second round for the second year in a row. Game 6 of the series saw the fourth game in a row where the Suns played without Chris Paul due to a groin injury. While he is not the sole reason for the Suns’ second-round exit, his absence from the lineup played a significant role. Paul’s absence was felt as the Suns struggled against the Nuggets, with most of their scoring coming from Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. They were lacking a true floor general, something CP3 is known for. At the same time, it can be argued the Suns almost looked better without Paul at times. With Phoenix in win-now mode and Paul on the decline, should the Suns move on from CP3?
In his three seasons with Phoenix, Paul has missed plenty of games due to injuries. In the last two seasons, Paul has missed 40 regular season games due to injuries including his shoulder, hip, hand, and more. Currently 38 years old, injuries have become more frequent, and the recovery times have become longer for Paul. While a lack of a strong bench can be blamed for the Suns’ struggles this post-season, missing Paul has played a significant role in their second-round losses to the Nuggets.
Looking at CP3 in year 18, his stats nearly dropped across the board. Paul’s scoring is at a career-low while he is also shooting a career-low from the field. The numbers are only going to decrease as Paul continues the final stretch of his career. The other big issue with Paul beside his unavailability in key moments is his contract. Paul will earn $60M over the next two seasons, with partially guaranteed money for the 2023-24 season and no guaranteed money for the 2024-25 season until specific dates. With the Suns already over the salary cap by a significant amount and the bench needing an upgrade, an argument can be made that Paul’s contract is too much for what he’s providing right now.
There have been some rumors in recent months looking at Chris Paul’s future with the Suns. A recent rumor has suggested Kyrie Irving could be a potential target for the Phoenix Suns. Looking for a potential replacement as Paul’s career is in its final stretch, Kyrie could be a suitable replacement for CP3. Irving and Durant have both mentioned enjoying playing with each other and wanting to play together again. If a move like this were to happen, it’s likely that Paul would be included in a sign-and-trade package to Dallas for Kyrie.
Phoenix is in a very tough position though. Almost in between eras, the Suns need to decide if they are going to move on from Chris Paul or not. Nearing the end of his career, CP3 has shown his game is unfortunately declining. While he can still offer something to the Suns, he won’t be able to help them win a championship. For Phoenix, moving on from Paul may be a huge and necessary step in moving closer to a championship.