Chris Paul finally made it to the NBA Finals in Year 16 of his career, but unfortunately for him and the Suns, the season ended without winning an NBA title.
Phoenix fell to the Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals 105-98 at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday and would lose the series 4-2 after having a 2-0 series lead.
No one expected the Suns to get to this point. They missed the playoffs last season but added Chris Paul and Jae Crowder to the mix, and they were able to have the second-best record in the NBA, and ultimately, they made it to the Finals.
Paul, who had 26 points and five assists on Tuesday night, knows this loss will hurt for some time.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Great group of guys, hell of a season, but this one is going to hurt for a while.”
Even though the Suns got to the Finals, which is good, Paul is not satisfied.
“For me, it just means back to work. Back to work. Nothing more, nothing less,” he said. “Ain’t no moral victories or whatnot. We sort of saw what it takes to get there, and hopefully, we see what it takes to get past that…
“Everybody in that locker room knows we had enough, but it wasn’t enough. So, we got to figure it out. I think for me, I just look at myself and figure out how can I get better, what I could have done more, and make sure I come back next season ready to do it again.”
The 11-time All-Star can opt-out of his contract. Paul is scheduled to make $44.2 million next season if he decides to opt-in. No matter what he decides, the 36-year-old point guard says he will play next season.
“I mean, it will take a while to process this or whatnot, but it’s same mentality, get back to work,” he said. “I ain’t retiring… That’s out. So, back to work.”
Phoenix could have a hard time getting back to the Finals. The Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Clippers(if they re-sign Kawhi Leonard), and Nuggets will be formidable in the Western Conference.
However, the Suns have a star in Devin Booker and a budding star in Deandre Ayton, but Paul was the difference. If he does come back, Phoenix can still contend. If he doesn’t, that’s a big blow for this team. We’ll see what happens in the offseason, but Suns have built a winning culture, and we shall see if they can build on the success they had this season.