Future Hall of Fame guard Chris Paul could be on the move.
Charania stated that the Suns are "exploring multiple options" for Paul, "including a trade, stretching his contract, or waiving and re-signing him in free agency."
The 12-time All-Star has two years and $60.8 million remaining on his contract, but only $15.8 million during the upcoming season is guaranteed. If he isn't waived before June 28, the full $30 million will be guaranteed.
Instead, Phoenix is considering moving in a different direction. The 38-year-old is coming off a season where he averaged a career-low 13.9 points per game and suffered another groin injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the playoffs.
Haynes added that Paul "plans to play for several more years and is eager to help a team contend for a championship," ruling out the possibility of retirement.
Chris Paul plans to play for several more years and is eager to help a team contend for a championship, sources say.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 7, 2023
If the Suns decide to waive him, it is unknown what Paul would be looking for in his next contract. If he is willing to take the veteran minimum to join a contender, all 30 teams are in play.
Where could Paul suit up to pursue his first career championship ring if Phoenix decides to cut ties? The Sporting News takes a look at some possible destinations below.
Chris Paul free agent destinations
Los Angeles Lakers
The obvious team that comes to mind is the Lakers, given Paul's storied relationship with LeBron James. It's an added bonus that Los Angeles could use another point guard.
Starting point guard D'Angelo Russell is set to hit unrestricted free agency, and his play was subpar at best during Los Angeles' run to the Western Conference Finals. Paul could provide the Lakers with a (potentially) much cheaper option while keeping James happy by adding a close friend to the roster.
Even though Paul looked like a shell of himself at times during this past season, he is still the type of leader and playmaking scoring threat that can elevate a team looking to contend for a title.
Remember when NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a trade between the Hornets and Lakers that would have paired Paul with Kobe Bryant back in 2011? Maybe CP3 finally lands in Los Angeles with another all-time great more than a decade later.
The Heat are a little busy competing in the NBA Finals at the moment, but Paul could be a great asset to a Miami team trying to capitalize on its championship window.
Starting point guard Gabe Vincent is set to become an unrestricted free agent and Kyle Lowry has one year and $29.7 million remaining on his contract. The Heat will likely re-sign Vincent after he has morphed into Stephen Curry during their run to the NBA Finals, but if Paul was willing to sign for the minimum, it would make Lowry expendable.
Miami could use Lowry's contract (among other assets) to match salaries in a trade for another key rotation player, and Paul could fill his role as the team's veteran floor general.
It feels like a Pat Riley-esque move to maximize the talent on the Heat's roster.
Paul is arguably the greatest player in Clippers franchise history, with some of the best years of his career coming during the "Lob City" era. He was a five-time All-Star in LA, taking the Clippers to the playoffs in a franchise-best six consecutive seasons from 2011-17. But to say there is unfinished business would be an understatement, as none of those Clippers teams even reached the Western Conference Finals.
LA is trying to take advantage of a closing championship window with superstar wings Kawhi Leonard (31 years old) and Paul George (33) still on the roster. It temporarily filled its void for a point guard with Russell Westbrook this past season, signing the outcast All-Star to a veteran minimum deal on the buyout market, but he will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Even though George has already campaigned for Westbrook's return, could the Clippers perhaps go in a different direction to bring back a franchise legend? Or is there a world in which they could sign both future Hall of Famers?
That would certainly fill their point guard void, even if neither player is who they were in their prime.
With the news that James Harden is torn between a reunion with the Rockets or a return to the 76ers, Paul could be a fallback option for Philadelphia. And even if Harden re-signs, maybe Sixers president Daryl Morey would be interested in running things back from the 2017-2019 Houston days with Harden, Paul and P.J. Tucker.
Harden was twice as good as Paul this past season, so it wouldn't be a one-for-one replacement if the prolific playmaker does decide to sign with the Rockets. But Paul is still a viable option to lead a team with championship aspirations. He would also be a great mentor for rising star Tyrese Maxey, who looked ready to take on a bigger role after a stellar run in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
The familiarity with Morey is there, whether Harden returns or not.
Phoenix Suns: According to Charania's report, a return to the Suns would still be possible even if they decide to waive Paul. The move would allow Phoenix to cut his guaranteed money in half, then re-sign the veteran guard on a cheaper deal to bring him back.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans have been fringe playoff contenders for two seasons now, but Zion Williamson's health has prevented them from taking a leap into title contention. Point guard is a position of need, and Paul spent the first six seasons of his career in New Orleans.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics could use some veteran leadership and fit the "title contender" bill that Paul will be looking for. He would just have to be willing to sacrifice some playing time, as Boston already has Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are another team that could use a veteran floor general, and All-Star Jrue Holiday could easily slide to shooting guard if Paul was there to run the point. He would give Milwaukee some needed guard depth.