‘No-Brainer’ Trade Proposal Lands Suns Defensive Player of the Year for CP3

Suns star Chris Paul

Getty Suns star Chris Paul

A new trade proposal would land the Phoenix Suns a Defensive Player of the Year for Chris Paul.

In a June 14 column called “No-Brainer Trades for 2024 NBA Title Contenders,” Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report proposed that the Suns trade Paul to the Boston Celtics for Marcus Smart and Grant Williams.

It would be a sign-and-trade deal since Williams becomes a restricted free agent this offseason.

“The Boston Celtics have boatloads of talent, tremendous depth and quite possibly the Association’s best roster on paper. What they don’t always have, though, is a sense of purpose on the offensive end,” Buckley wrote. “Too often, they seem aimless on the game’s biggest moments. While they had this postseason’s fourth-most efficient offense, that ranking tumbled to ninth in clutch situations (final five minutes with a margin of five points or fewer). Their turnover rate spiked (12.9 to 14.9) and their pace slowed to a crawl (95.8 possessions per 48 minutes down to 86.8).

“They either didn’t have direction, or they lacked the playmakers needed to steer the ship. Either way, their need for a calculated, high-end decision-maker like Chris Paul became glaring. There are multiple paths to get Paul to Boston, and this would admittedly rank among the most expensive. The Celtics could wait and see whether the Phoenix Suns waive Paul before his $30.8 million salary becomes fully guaranteed on June 28, but that would add a host of other suitors to the equation. Sure, he could pick Boston, but what are the chances he actually would?”

The Suns are expected to trade, waive or stretch Paul this offseason. The future Hall of Famer, who averaged a career-low 13.9 points this past season, has a partially guaranteed contract for next season.

Phoenix lost to the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Semifinals in six games. Paul suffered a groin injury in Game 2 and missed the rest of the series.

Chris Paul Could Help the Celtics; Marcus Smart & Grant Williams Could Help the Suns

Buckley believes Paul could help the Celtics and Smart and Williams could help the Suns.

“Move past the finances, and it’s all too easy to get giddy about Paul’s on-paper fit,” Buckley wrote. “Getting him to Boston means immediately lightening the offensive load shouldered by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, neither of whom should be a team’s primary playmaker. Paul, 38, may have lost some layers of his game over time, but that part remains elite. His 8.9 assists per outing this season looked all the more impressive when weighed against his 1.9 giveaways.

“The Suns, meanwhile, could certainly be on board with the idea of flipping Paul and his cost-prohibitive salary for a pair of plug-and-play contributors. Smart’s offensive limitations would be easier to mask with offensive focal points like Devin Booker and Kevin Durant on the floor. Williams could scratch Phoenix’s itch for frontcourt depth while providing a reliable three-ball and defensive versatility.”

Smart, who won the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year Award, averaged 11.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists for the Celtics this past season.

Meanwhile, Williams put up 8.1 points, 4.6 boards and 1.7 assists per game.

Chris Paul Wants to Stay With the Suns

Paul told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic on June 15 that he wants to stay with the Suns.

“Absolutely,” Paul said. “That’s why I’m there. I’ve talked with my family, we’ve had conversations about what could be, what might be. I’ve talked with my agent. Talked to my brother (C.J. Paul). I’m working out, training, spending time with my family.”

Only $15.8 million of Paul’s $30.8 million salary for the 2023-24 season is guaranteed if he’s waived. The Suns have already started talking to teams about a CP3 trade.