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Phoenix Suns ‘linked’ to two prominent guards to replace Chris Paul

The Phoenix Suns re-signed Chris Paul to a four-year, $120 million contract in August 2021 after he played a crucial role in the franchise reaching the 2021 NBA Finals. Two years later, the future Hall of Fame point guard could be on his way out of Arizona.

Paul, who turned 38 this month, missed a majority of the playoff series against the Denver Nuggets with a groin injury. It marked the second consecutive postseason that Phoenix’s lead facilitator missed time with an injury.

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The 6-foot point guard’s body has started breaking down in recent seasons, with durability becoming a recurring issue. As Phoenix looks to build a core around Devin Booker and Kevin Durant that can win a championship, Paul’s days with the franchise appear numbered.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer, rival NBA teams believe the Suns pursued a long-term replacement for Paul at the NBA trade deadline. After being eliminated from the playoff, Phoenix is now being linked to Fred VanVleet and Terry Rozier.

Moving on from Paul should be relatively easy for the Suns. Only a portion of his $30.8 million salary next season is guaranteed, so Phoenix would only owe him $15.8 million as long as he is moved before the fully-guaranteed deadline on June 28.

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If the Suns move off Paul, VanVleet would likely be the top target. A 2022 All-Star selection, VanVleet is expected to decline his player option and become one of the top NBA free agents this summer.

VanVleet posted a 10.0 WAR in the regular season, matching Devin Booker and significantly outplaying Paul (5.0). He (1.2 RAPTOR) was also significantly better than Paul (-0.3 RAPTOR) defensively in the regular season.

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Rozier (2.9 WAR, –0.9 Defensive RAPTOR) is expected to be available this summer, with the Charlotte Hornets looking for young assets and draft picks to build a long-term core for the future. While he wouldn’t be as effective as VanVleet, Rozier would be a more affordable replacement for Paul next season and beyond.

Under new ownership, in spite of a new NBA collective-bargaining agreement that institutes harsher penalties for surpassing the luxury tax, the financial ramifications of upgrading the roster are expected to be far less of a factor for the Suns this summer.

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