Photo via: @cp3/Instagram
The Phoenix Suns completed their trade for All-Star point guard Chris Paul this week. The trade sees Paul and forward Abel Nader join the Suns, with Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque joining the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder also received a 2022 first-round pick from Phoenix and have since traded Rubio to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“We are excited to welcome Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix,” Suns general manager James Jones said on the trade, per ESPN. “Chris’ leadership and competitive approach to the game will have an immeasurable impact on our team. Abdel possesses all the traits on and off the court that will complement our culture.”
The Suns went 8-0 in the NBA’s Orlando bubble earlier this year, ending their 2019/20 season on a good note despite losing out to the Portland Trail Blazers in the race for the Playoffs. The move pairs a future Hall of Fame playmaker with rising star Devin Booker and the prospects are certainly exciting. Paul’s play hasn’t diminished in the wake of his 35th birthday and he led the Thunder to a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference last season. He is still considered a valuable piece and Phoenix now has a shot at making the playoffs.
Paul will also reunite with coach Monty Williams, who coached him for a single term in New Orleans (2009/10). The team secured a 46-36 record that season but went out in the first round of the playoffs. Last December, Paul claimed to be very excited before games while playing for Williams as he was a huge fan of the plays the coach drew up.
Looking to build on their impressive run to end last season, the Suns want to reach the next level with Chris Paul. The guard was part of the “Lob City” era with the Los Angeles Clippers and the likes of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan saw personal success on the back of his playmaking. It is hoped he could do the same for Phoenix big man Deandre Ayton.
Paul joined the Thunder from the Houston Rockets last summer as part of a trade for Russell Westbrook. His last season with Houston did not go according to plan and it appeared his career was on its last legs. However, the 10-time NBA All-Star underwent a resurgence that saw him reclaim the “Point God” moniker of his younger days. His performances also saw him make the All-Star team for the first time since 2016 and got him into the All-NBA Second team, also the first since 2016.
He recorded averages of 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per contest in 70 games for OKC and took the Rockets to seven games in the playoffs before bowing out. The 35-year-old also led the league in clutch scoring.
Also quite notably, Paul only missed one game for the Thunder last season amid a metier plagued with injury. The one game missed wasn’t through injury either, with Paul taking time off to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers. The former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard was close friends with Paul.
Photo via: @cp3/Instagram
“We want to thank Chris for the contributions he has made to the Thunder and the Oklahoma City community, both this season and during his initial tenure in 2005-06 with the Hornets,” OKC GM Sam Presti said following the trade. “Chris has been the consummate leader and has left a tremendous legacy in a short period of time. We wish him and Abdel and their families only the best moving forward. We also look forward to welcoming Ricky, Kelly, Ty and Jalen to Oklahoma City and are excited for them to join the Thunder program.”
Meanwhile, Rubio is thought to be very displeased over getting traded. “It is not a dish of good taste that when you are involved in a project, you leave your skin and see that you are working, at the first change you have to go,” he told Spanish publication marca.com this week (H/T azcentral.com).
On Wednesday night, the Thunder pulled off another trade, sending Danny Green to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Al Horford, a protected 2025 first-round pick, and the 34th pick in Wednesday’s Draft. They will also be getting the rights to Serbian guard Vasilije Micic while the 76ers will receive Terrance Ferguson as part of the deal.
Green was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade that saw Dennis Schroder go the other way but it appears the Thunder had no plans on keeping him. Horford, who spent a single season with Philly, was clearly a poor fit and didn’t mesh well with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. In Green, the Sixers have received a marksman from three who has played important roles in consecutive championship campaigns with the Toronto Raptors and the Lakers.