The Phoenix Suns are shaking up their roster in hopes of reaching the playoffs as the team traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Suns are sending quite a bit back to the Thunder in the deal as Phoenix looks to capitalize on the momentum their team built in the NBA Bubble.
“The deal sends Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to the Suns for Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski noted on Twitter.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Thunder can receive the first-round pick in 2022, at the earliest and it comes with several protections.
“Sources: Suns’ future first to the Thunder is protected 1-12 in 2022, 1-10 in 2023, 1-8 in 2024 and unprotected in 2025,” Charania tweeted.
Here is a look at the updated Suns roster and projected starting lineup with Paul.
Suns Roster & Projected Starting Lineup 2020-21
C: Deandre Ayton, Aron Baynes (UFA), Frank Kaminsky (CO)
PF: Dario Saric, Cameron Johnson, Tariq Owens (RFA)
SF: Mikal Bridges, Abdel Nader (CO)
SG: Devin Booker, Cameron Payne (CO)
PG: Chris Paul, Jevon Carter (RFA), Eli Okobo
Players listed in italics are free agents, per Spotrac. UFA references unrestricted free agents, RFA are restricted free agents and CO means the Suns have a club option on the player for 2020-21.
The Suns have some decisions to make about their own players as free agency approaches. ESPN’s Bobby Marks broke down the Suns’ cap situation and why we may not see the trade officially announced until later this month.
“Smart play for Phoenix now is to focus on their own free agents: Saric and Baynes,” Marks explained on Twitter. “Letting both go only leaves them with $9.3M room ML and $3.6M biannual exception. Can bring both back and still have the 2 exceptions to use. …One direction that Phoenix can go is to hold off on the trade until the moratorium is lifted on 11/22. That would allow them to use cap space first (up to $18M) and circle back acting like a team over the cap.”
ESPN’s Zach Lowe expects the Suns to now go after a power forward in free agency.
“My hunch is the below is what PHX will do — to try and use space, perhaps on a PF (Gallo, Grant, Bertans all seem reasonable candidates),” Lowe tweeted.
The Suns Are Making a Run at the Playoffs
The obvious question for the Suns is why the team is giving up several young pieces and a first-round pick for a 35-year-old point guard. Phoenix is making it clear they want to make the playoffs in 2021 and are willing to sacrifice some of their future to do so. The Suns still have their dynamic duo of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton with the hope that Paul can be the missing piece the team needs to make the postseason.
The good news is Paul remained healthy last season averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, five rebounds and 1.6 steals in 70 games. It will be worth watching to see what players the Suns add this offseason as they look to be a threat in a competitive Western Conference.
As for the Thunder, the franchise continues to stockpile future draft picks. The Thunder has now turned Russell Westbrook into three future draft selections and two pick swaps, per ESPN’s Royce Young.