The Thunder’s success this season seems to have strengthened Chris Paul’s resolve.Chris Paul reaffirms he will not opt out of deal for move to contender — OKC Thunder Wire
As has been well-documented, Paul, who recently turned 35 years old, has two seasons and about $85 million due to him under his current deal. The final year of the deal is a player option worth about $44 million, though, and once upon a time, there were some who wondered whether Paul would be willing to opt out of the final year in order to either help make him a more desirable trade target for contenders or exercise his right to free agency early.
Paul, to no fault of his own, still isn’t hearing it.
He said he wouldn’t opt out in January, and he doubled-down when he appeared on ESPN’s First Take with Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and guest host Charly Arnolt on Friday.
The pertinent exchange occurred when Kellerman referred back to the interview Paul did with Sports Illustrated in January where the point guard said there was “no chance” he’d leave the money on the table.
His stance, predictably, hasn’t changed.
“January was like a lifetime ago… You told Sports Illustrated at that point that you didn’t have any plans to opt out of the last year, $44 million, of your contract to seek a trade or anything like that… Where are you with that today?” Kellerman asked.
Paul remained consistent.
“I don’t control that… Sam Presti has been amazing this year and Oklahoma was amazing, obviously we’ll see what happens this summer or whatnot. It’s nice to be here and be close to my family. I think for me, I’m gonna let everything play out, see what happens, but I’m in a good place. I wish we could’ve kept advancing in the playoffs, but I don’t have no plans of opting out no time soon, neither.
As gifted as he is, Paul will turn 37 years old in the final year of his contract, and the $44 million he’ll be paid for the 2021-22 season is not money he’d be able to recoup should he opt out and leave it on the table.
Furthermore, Paul’s resurgence could bring teams such as the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns or Chicago Bulls to the table. Each of the teams could benefit from bringing in a winner like Paul and they, unlike say, the Milwaukee Bucks, have differing levels of young players and draft capital that may be enticing to Oklahoma City.
Paul, though, isn’t doing anyone any favors, and in the twilight of his career, he certainly isn’t leaving $44 million on the table. Nor should he.