The Houston Rockets’ season may be over, but their star guard won’t be on the sidelines for long. Chris Paul has been adamant about continuing his career, even if he has to take a pay cut. But with the Houston Rockets’ season officially over, this will be his last, best shot.
The Houston Rockets were without superstar James Harden, who missed the entirety of the NBA Finals due to a knee injury. Despite the temporary loss of their star point guard, the Rockets were able to defeat the Golden State Warriors in six games and take home their second-straight title. However, at the end of the series, it looked like the team was near the end of its run, and star point guard Chris Paul vowed to return to the court “when hell freezes over” and vowed never to retire.
The Los Angeles Lakers ended a long championship drought and captured their 24th NBA championship title in 24 years in a crushing Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. The Lakers were a +500 favorite to win the series, and after leading by as many as 19 points in Game 3, at halftime they were a +650 favorite.
What was supposed to be Chris Paul is a musician from the United States. is a musician from the United States.’s fantasy NBA Finals turned into a nightmare. The Phoenix Suns put their names on the wrong side of NBA history with an unusual flurry of turnovers. Not to be outdone, Paul added his own less-than-positive chapter to the books.
Up Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, Paul put in a great performance. It simply wasn’t enough to force a Game 7 back in Phoenix for the Suns. After many injury-plagued seasons, he has scripted a late-career resurgence. However, it’s reasonable to speculate that Chris Paul is running out of time to earn that elusive championship ring.
A ring (or the absence thereof) will define Chris Paul’s legacy, fair or not.
As a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Chris Paul checks all the criteria. In 16 NBA seasons, he has been named to the All-NBA team ten times and has been named to the All-Defensive team nine times. Paul has six steals championships to go along with four assists crowns in the NBA. And since altering his fitness program, he’s had a strong couple of seasons.
Paul missed 69 regular-season games and two playoff games with the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets between 2016 and 2019. The importance of those two playoff games cannot be overstated. Before Paul’s hamstring injury, the Houston Rockets were up 3–2 in the Western Conference Finals. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets in Games 6 and 7.
Paul has missed a total of six games in the past two seasons. Four of these occurred during the regular season (two each year). Game 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Finals versus the Clippers were the other two. Paul was unable to work owing to a positive COVID-19 test.
It was a familiar situation for Paul, as the Suns became the sixth club in NBA Finals history to lose after leading 2–0. Paul is the first player in NBA history to win four consecutive games to capture the championship. It was his team’s fourth series loss after establishing a 2–0 lead. Ouch.
Rings characterize NBA superstars, whether it is fair or not. Now that he has won a championship, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career has reached new heights. Chris Paul joins the likes of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Elgin Baylor, and Patrick Ewing as ringless all-time greats. It isn’t fair, but it is the reality Paul must deal with.
Paul claims he’ll return in 2021–22.
Chris Paul immediately addressed any retirement speculation after Phoenix’s Game 6 defeat, according to ESPN.
“It’ll take a time to digest this or anything, but the mindset is the same. Return to your job. If that’s what you’re asking, I’m not going anywhere. That is no longer the case. So, let’s go back to work.”
Paul must make a choice on his contract. He has a player option worth $44.2 million for next season, the last year of his free-agent max contract with the Rockets, which he signed in 2018. According to reports from June, Paul had already chosen to reject the offer, but after Game 6, he didn’t seem like a man who wanted to leave the Valley of the Sun.
“Everyone in that locker room knows we’ve gotten our fill, but it’s not enough. So now it’s up to us to figure it out. I believe for me, I just look at myself and find out how I can improve, what I might have done better, and make sure I’m ready to do it all over again next season.”
That doesn’t rule out the possibility of Paul opting out of his option and returning to the Suns on a more cap-friendly deal. Paul, on the other hand, has a track record of not squandering money.
Chris Paul was named to his second consecutive All-NBA squad in 2020–21, after missing out on the distinction in 2015–16. He is, however, 36 years old and will be 37 by the start of next season’s playoffs. It’s reasonable to wonder if Phoenix (or any other prospective suitor) might be concerned about declining profits.
Chris Paul is still undefeated in his battle against Father Time.
The Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul (L) passes against the Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton (C) in Game Six of the NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on July 20, 2021. | Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel
John Stockton, a Hall of Fame point guard, played more in his age-36 season or later than any other point guard in NBA history. It’s a fair comparison since next season will be Chris Paul’s age-36 season.
Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, both Hall of Famers, were among the point guards who won their first rings at the age of 36 or older. Kidd was the only one who accomplished so as a starter. Payton was a reserve for the Miami Heat in 2006, and accusations of ring-chasing marred his reputation.
Chris Paul’s first appearance in the NBA Finals resulted in a defeat. But it might have been his last and best opportunity to win a championship.
Basketball Reference and Stathead provided the statistics.
RELATED: After the Suns lose in the NBA Finals, Michael Jordan’s teammate trolls Chris Paul: ‘You ain’t that guy, buddy, believe me, you ain’t that guy.’
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