The Phoenix Suns and the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed in principle on Monday to a trade that will send veteran guard Chris Paul to Phoenix and see a future pick and a host of promising youngsters shipped to Oklahoma City Thunder, sources told ESPN.
Abdel Nader will be accompanying Paul on the trip from Oklahoma City to the desert while Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, and Jalen Lecque make the opposite trip alongside Phoenix’s 2022 first round pick, sources said.
The deal comes on the heels of an impressive 8-0 performance in the bubble for Phoenix at the end of last season, as the Suns only narrowly missed making the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Budding superstar Devin Booker now has the perfect running mate in a future Hall of Famer like Paul who can not only compliment him on the court, but tutor him off of it as well.
The Suns—who are +4,000 longshots to win next year’s NBA title on sports betting site 888sport—could suddenly become major contending players in a tough Western Conference with a core of Booker, Paul, and big man DeAndre Ayton.
Paul’s huge contract—which still has two years and $80 million+ left on it—was previously thought to be unmovable, but Thunder general manager has now somehow managed to trade for Paul while acquiring draft capital and trade Paul away while also acquiring draft capital just a year later.
Presti was able to get such a good package for Paul because of how well the 15-year NBA veteran played in Oklahoma City last season. Paul was sent to the Thunder as it seemed they would begin their rebuild, but Paul’s re-emergence in 2020 as a durable floor general averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game on his way to his first All-Star Game and All-NBA honors since 2016 helped lift the young Thunder into the fifth seed and a playoff berth.
The man they call the ‘Point God’ is a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer who will surprisingly be playing for his fourth team in five years once he puts on the Suns threads for the first time in December. The Winston-Salem native has had an illustrious career during which he’s been named to ten All-Star teams, nine All-NBA teams, and nine All-NBA Defensive teams. The 2006 Rookie of the Year has also led the league in assists four times and steals six times.
If you substitute Scrooge McDuck for Presti and gold coins for draft picks, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in Oklahoma City right now. Presti began his draft pick hoarding when he snagged up two first round choices and two second round pick swaps along with Paul last year when he finally shipped Russell Westbrook out.
Presti has built on that haul nicely recently, picking up another first-rounder from the Lakers on Monday in a deal that will send Dennis Schroder to L.A. The Paul deal now brings OKC’s total to 17 possible first round draft choices between the 2020 and 2026 drafts, setting them up very nicely for a quick rebuild.
The Thunder also picked up quality players in Oubre (18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds last year) and Rubio (13.1 points and 8.9 dimes) in the trade, but it’s unclear if they figure into the Thunder’s future plans.
Oklahoma City is clearly rebuilding around budding star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they dealt more of their top veterans, such as Oubre, Rubio, recently-acquired Danny Green, Danilo Gallinari, or longtime Thunder big man Steven Adams for more draft capital before this upcoming campaign’s midseason trade deadline.