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Suns talking trade to pair Booker with Chris Paul

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The Phoenix Suns are engaged in trade talks with the Thunder for Chris Paul

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are seriously considering bringing in 10-time All-Star and probable Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul to play alongside Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.

Multiple outlets are reporting the mutual interest, not only between the Suns and the Thunder but also between Devin Booker and Chris Paul themselves. Paul, in particular, sees Booker as a superstar and was impressed with the Suns in the Bubble behind his beloved former coach Monty Williams. Devin Booker, for his part, is interested in any trade or free agent that gets him into perennial playoff expectations.

The rumor went small-stream over the weekend...

And tonight went main-stream via ESPN. Gotta hand it to Flex for hearing this much earlier than some of the national guys!

Yes, Chris Paul is getting old — 35 years old right now, to be exact — and rarely do NBA players remain effective into their late 30s.

Yes, Chris Paul is extremely expensive — $41 million this year, $45 million next year, all guaranteed — and would cost the Suns most every big salary on their roster to acquire.

Yes, Chris Paul gets nagging injuries, but the reality is that he played 70 of a possible 72 games this past season (tied for the most on the Thunder and would have been second-most on the Suns behind Bridges). That was the most games he’d played in four seasons.

But also yes, Chris Paul is a winner and knows how to carry a team to the playoffs (10 straight years!). Not one observer would give anyone else the primary credit for leading the Thunder to the 4th seed in the West this past year.

He led the Thunder in games played (70), assists per game (6.7), steals per game (1.6), was second in minutes-per-game (31.5) and fourth in points per game (17.5) and fourth in Effective FG% (55.5%) behind only their big men.


What’s the cost?

Here’s the Suns cap sheet again, this time with Chris Paul added in red.


Option 1: Ricky, Kelly, Frank out... while still spending $18 mil in FA and picking at No. 10

Unfortunately, a $41.36 million price tag severely limits the Suns options in a trade. You can finagle all you want with pieces on the Suns roster, but the Suns would have to include both Ricky Rubio ($17 million, $17.81 million) and Kelly Oubre Jr. ($14.38 million, UFA) in the deal to even get close.

Allowing for the “125% either way” salary matching requirements in the CBA, the Suns still have to come up with another $4.4 million in salary to make a trade legally work. That part’s easy... could be Frank Kaminsky, or a combo of Ty Jerome and Cheick Diallo.

Doing this deal (Ricky, Kelly and Frank for CP3) allows the Suns to still spend most or all of that $19 million in cap space on another piece to solidify the rotation... like Danilo Gallinari. Imagine a lineup of CP3, Book, Mikal, Gallo and DA. That’s a playoff lineup for sure! Or make it Christian Wood or Jerami Grant at the PF spot. Whatever floats your boat.

PG: Chris Paul, Ty Jerome

SG: Devin Booker

SF: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson

PF: Gallo/Grant/Wood

C: Deandre Ayton

Gives the Suns a ton of options in free agency, plus their No. 10 draft pick. And a really good lineup! And, they can easily bring back Cameron Payne and/or Jevon Carter for backup guard time on minimum salaries if you still want them around.


Option #2: Ricky, No. 10 out... keep Kelly, forego free agency

It’s conceivable to trade Ricky ($17), the 10th overall pick ($4.47) and all the Suns cap space ($18.7) for Chris Paul. In this case, you get a one for one swap on players and hope Paul can convince a bunch of vets to come for minimum deals. And that Chris Paul is better than Ricky Rubio in 2020-21.

PG: Chris Paul, Ty Jerome

SG: Devin Booker

SF: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson

PF: Kelly Oubre Jr.

C: Deandre Ayton

After this, the Suns would have the cap room exception of $4 million on one more okay player, plus all the minimum-salary deals they can handle.

Note: This version of the deal would have to happen post-draft, when the Suns could pick a player Oklahoma City likes at No. 10, then decline all the options and Saric’s qualifying offer and deny Baynes’ cap hold in order to create cap space to absorb Paul.


**UPDATED***

Option #3: Ricky, Kelly, $10 mil cap space out... spend $9 million in FA, keep draft pick

The other option is to wait until free agency and use some of their cap space to make up the difference in salaries beyond Kelly/Ricky, and then spend whatever is left over. Which is right about the mid-level exception number of $9-10 million.

PG: Chris Paul, Ty Jerome

SG: Devin Booker

SF: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson

PF: Cameron Johnson, mid-level FA

C: Deandre Ayton

Suns keep their draft pick, which could be at any position. The Suns would compete with all the other teams for mid-level guys, but they WOULD have Chris Paul and Devin Booker and a playoff spot in their sales pitch. And then at the end they could bring back one or more of the guys they released from minimum-salary deals (Payne, Carter, Diallo).


Bottom Line

Well, this is a tough one isn’t it?

A good, healthy Chris Paul has a better chance of carrying the Suns to the playoffs than Ricky Rubio.

But a hurt Chris Paul could kill the Suns chances at anything but another lottery run and Booker trade demand.

What say you, Suns fans?

Poll

Would you acquire Chris Paul for the Suns?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes! Option 1
    (659 votes)
  • 16%
    Yes! Option 2
    (326 votes)
  • 5%
    Yes! Option 3
    (109 votes)
  • 46%
    No! Not for any of those deals
    (939 votes)
2033 votes total Vote Now