It’s now officially the part of the offseason in which the Suns are going to start being linked to every point guard on the market.
Midway through last week, it was Darius Garland and Kyrie Irving, and now as the dust clears from the NBA Draft Combine, the unofficial start of the league’s crazy season, it’s Chris Paul.
On a lottery wrap-up edition of his ESPN podcast, Zach Lowe said a popular topic at the NBA draft combine was what the Rockets could do with Chris Paul, and the Suns were one of two “common answers,” along with the Lakers.
Lowe was quite blunt in his assessment of any potential interest in Paul on the part of the Suns, at least if that meant giving up positive value for the 34-year-old.
“If the Suns were so dumb to give up anything of value for Chris Paul ... let the goat become the GM of the Suns ... you just contract the team,” Lowe said.
Of course, that’s the now-infamous goat who helped celebrate Diana Taurasi’s enshrinement as the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. The one who pooped on Ryan McDonough’s office floor.
It may seem a bit harsh, but consider Paul’s contract and production. This season, Paul put up just 17.6 points per 36 minutes on 42 percent shooting from the field, his worst numbers in over a decade. He will make $38.5 million next year and $44.2 million by 2021-22.
“Chris Paul’s a good player, he’s just in his mid-30s, declining, in constant risk of leg injuries (and) making an enormous amount of money,” Lowe said.
However, the Suns’ need is obvious, and Paul is the type of big-name veteran who would plug the whole in an aggressive manner. It seems like the type of thing that could appeal to Robert Sarver if he wants to win back respect around the league and among local fans.
Paul also played under new coach Monty Williams for two seasons before being traded to the Clippers. New senior vice president of basketball operations Jeff Bower drafted Paul.
If the Suns do sniff around such a deal, they should be adding as much value on their side of the deal as possible. Get off the contracts of T.J. Warren and Tyler Johnson, try to get back intriguing young Rockets players such as Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein.
Go for the moon. Center the deal around extraneous assets like Josh Jackson and the Bucks’s 2020 first-round pick and see if that gets it done.
Trading for Paul and his enormous salary would allow the Suns to operate over the salary cap this summer, making Kelly Oubre Jr.’s raise less worrisome from a cap standpoint.
Even in a more appealing scenario like the one outlined above, the Suns are still locked into a Paul-Devin Booker-Mikal Bridges- Oubre-Deandre Ayton core for the next three seasons. It’s difficult to imagine that group making significant noise with little financial flexibility to upgrade the rest of the roster.
If making a splash is the priority, Paul is a no-brainer target. But recent history shows us James Jones is more patient than this, and will prefer a long-term answer at the position.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this story was originally published on May 19. There have been no reports of Suns interest in Chris Paul. The discussion on Zach Lowe’s podcast was simply scuttlebutt among uninvolved individuals.