For the next four years, Chris Paul will make $160 million, more than probably everyone who sees this blog post will make in their lifetime — combined. Well, unless CP3 reads this.
CP3 turned 33 in May, and this contract will take him into the end of the 2021-22 season, where he will be 36 years old. In the final season of his deal, Paul will be making approximately $44 million as a 36-year old NBA player.
To put things in perspective, David West was 36 years old this season. He averaged 6.8 points per game making less than $2.5 million. So, this means that Paul will be making more than 17 times the amount that West made this season in his age-36 season. I think it is safe to say that CP3 won’t be averaging 17 times more than 6.8 PPG in 2021.
The most productive players 36 or older in the NBA this season were Pau Gasol and Jamal Crawford, both of whom came off the bench and averaged 10 points per game for average Western Conference teams. This doesn’t mean Paul won’t be a solid player four years from now, but he will likely not be playing up to his salary.
CP3 missed 24 games this season, the most he’s missed since 2009-10, and he injured his hamstring in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. His health is certainly in question.
So, why give him this boatload of money if it spells disaster for you long-term?
I believe the reason the Rockets transcended from a good team to a great team was Paul’s ability to slow down the offense and allow the team to come into its truest form. Less exertion of energy on offense meant more energy on defense, where the Rockets excelled at for the first time in the James Harden era. CP3 also was a huge part of the defensive identity for the Rockets, averaging 1.7 steals per contest.
Despite all his question marks, CP3 is a good player NOW. He is an integral part to the team’s success NOW. He frees Harden, the Most Valuable Player in the peak of his prime, up to be the best player he can be NOW. This team needs CP3 NOW.
As mentioned before, CP3 was a 33-year old free agent. This means that this is probably going to be his last big free agent contract. Very few 36-year olds get long, rich contracts in the NBA, so this is his last chance to secure the bag. All power to him. When you have the chance to secure the bag, you do it.
So yes, CP3 might not be the player he was last season at age-36 when he makes $44 million, but this deal is for when he’s 33 and 34 at the apex of their the contention window. CP3 was not taking a two-year deal, so if the Rockets had to satisfy and reward him with two more years making over $80 million, then so be it, because he is worth the money he is being paid for at least this upcoming season. For the Rockets, this was a sacrifice they needed to make.