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Chris Paul on ‘blur’ summer, Phoenix is ‘home’, new expectations for 2021-22 Suns

The Phoenix Suns’ starting point guard is back for another run at a title

NBA: Phoenix Suns-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what Phoenix Suns starting point guard Chris Paul said during the team’s Media Day before training camp on Monday.

On his decision to re-sign with the Suns while going through a shorter offseason:

“It’s such a blur now. I mean, it was an easy decision though. This is close to my family, and this became my family last year. Not only being here in Phoenix was fun basketball-wise, but it was fun as far as life. Being around these guys, those of you that work know that anytime you go to work and you don’t feel like you’re at work and you really get a chance to enjoy what you’re doing, it’s always a nice feeling. So doing that here with the team that we had, the coaching staff, I wanted to come back.”

On Suns starting forward Jae Crowder saying he knew Paul would come back and that he begged him to sign with Phoenix before last season:

“Jae ain’t know nothing. He ain’t my agent. Jae don’t work for me. Nah, but that’s true too. You think about those different relationships that you form, and that trust and that bond. Jae, man, I know how much I enjoyed playing alongside him last year after a year under our belt. I’m sure it’s going to be even better this year. I said it earlier, I think one of the best things about our team this season will be the continuity.”

On the Suns’ expectations for this season:

“Man, I think our expectations is to come in and start the process over again. We got to work, day one. It’s not like you come into this season and be like, ‘Alright, playoffs is set. We’re going to start where we were last year.’ No, there’s a lot of things we can get better at and we want to get better at. And that’s the whole fun part of the season. Getting as far as we did was cool and well, but when we all saw each other, we were basically reminiscing on the process, all the moments that got us there.”

If he is fully vaccinated:

“I’m here. I’m at Media Day. I’m here. You know the rules.”

If there’s anything he changed with his preparations during a short offseason:

“I had surgery. I had surgery after the season, so I had to change a lot. I’ve been rehabbing, day-in and day-out, for the last six, seven weeks. So I think for me this summer, I tried to spend as much time with my family as possible. Right? As much time as possible.”

If he has talked to Crowder, who played with the Miami Heat during the 2020 NBA Finals, about a short offseason:

“No, I haven’t. I think this was a little different than any other one, too. It was a little bit more time from the Bubble or whatnot. But I’m sure we’ll talk through camp as a team, coaching staff. This is all new for everybody on our team, so we’re just going to have to figure it out.”

On how often he looks back at the Finals:

“Not too often, to tell you the truth. Like I said, it’s kind of a blur. I was in one of the things, and they were showing me some clips. You remember a lot of it or whatnot, but at this point, it’s about focusing on this year. If there’s a situation where as a team, coach is like, ‘Oh, we like this, we need to try to do this again.’ But yeah, I think we sort of passed that and realized, in order to get an opportunity again, we got to start from scratch.”

On how Phoenix’s fans view him as one of their own:

“It’s great, and I’m a huge sports fan. I really believe in supporting your home, so this is home for me. Going to support the Mercury. One of the dopest things actually happened at the practice facility the other day. I was actually shooting on one court, and (Diana Taurasi) was shooting on the court. I got a chance to sit in there and watch a little bit of their practice. When you’re in college, you have a women’s team. When you’re in high school, the women’s team plays before you a lot of the time. So to be there in the same space and have sort of that bond is real. So I want to see them win, I want to see them be successful. We like one big team. So to see them continue to win, I was so happy they won yesterday. I’m actually trying to figure out how we can get to Game 3 and 4 when they come here.”

If he did anything differently with taking care of his body this offseason:

“Nah, taking care of your body is a fulltime job, day in and day out. You got to know when to train, you got to know when to do different things. And I’m always just figuring out, learning as I go to. But nothing new. Just continuing to do the work.”

On what he wants to take from last season into this year:

“I think the biggest thing is that hunger, that underdog mentality that we had last year. I think we got to keep it, we got to keep that same energy going into this year, understanding that we’ll have more television games than we had last year. But knowing that it’s going to be teams that’s coming for us or that want us, but we got to beat them more than they want to beat us. And just building. I think like I said, that’s the fun part of having a team like ours, is the process of knowing that it’s step-by-step.”

On what it would mean to be included on the NBA’s top-75 players of all time list:

“It would mean a lot. It’d mean a lot. I remember when they did the top-50. I remember watching that All Star game and seeing the 50 greats walk out with their jackets on and all that. So being a student of the game, yeah. It would mean a lot.”

On how much his injuries during the playoffs hindered him:

“I was cool. I got through it.”

On advice to Taurasi for the Mercury’s playoff run:

“When I was at the game at New York, I turned to DT at halftime. I don’t know, we were just talking about the game and what I saw and how I think they could score. But I don’t know, it’s fun to watch them play, to watch (Phoenix Mercury center) Brittney (Griner) and everybody. Like I said, all these years I’ve been in the league, when I played in New Orleans, we didn’t have a women’s team affiliate. The Clippers, we didn’t. Houston, we didn’t, and Oklahoma City. I haven’t seen anything like this, and it’s the coolest thing ever when we practice and you get a chance to see the women. It might be Skylar (Diggins-Smith) walking across the crosswalk, something like that and you see them. It’s really cool.”

If he feels like Suns starting center Deandre Ayton and backup center JaVale McGee can play at the same time:

“I think our team philosophy, and I’m not the coach — we do whatever needs to be done, whatever works. I think last year to start the season, we started Frank and DA a lot to start the season. Both of them our versatile, know how to play. If it calls for that, I think we could do it.”

On his advice to Suns backup guard Elfrid Payton and expectations for Chasson Randle, who signed a training camp contract with the team:

“Man, Chasson can play. We hooped the other day, and I remember playing against him when he was in Orlando. He can really play and really shoot the ball really well. EP is like my family. I’ve known Elfrid since before he came into the league. So for him, it was more so about finding the best situation for him. If that meant here, cool, if not, I’m excited about him being on the team. Because he’s so competitive, and I think that’s why me and him have been close for so long. Because no matter what the game is, what it is, he’s going to compete.”