The Phoenix Suns just acquired All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder. A transaction that has launched the franchise forward, even though it cost some good looks, solid players and swag.
Let’s talk about it.
1 - What grade do you give this trade and GM James Jones? Why?
John Voita: I give the trade an A. James Jones brought in an All-Star player who isn’t your typical All-Star. He’s a defender, a vocal leader, and the president of the NBPA. In order to do that Jones sacrificed one player who was a flight risk, a solid point guard (I’ll miss you Papa Ricky), an end-of the-bench player, a G Leaguer, and a pick two years out with multiple conditions.
Matthew Lissy: A++. This Suns teams is now ready for the playoffs and everyone knows it. You got the player that Devin Booker wanted and also a solid teammate in Chris Paul who is still hunting for that first NBA Championship.
Khaleel Abdullah: A. Sans fans will miss Tsunami Papi and Papa Ricky but this was a clear leap forward. James stood his ground, did not include Cam or Mikal or the tenth pick and he got the deal done. The backcourt now has two All-Stars.
Dave King: A+. Chris Paul will have a profound impact on the Suns trajectory back into perennial playoff appearances. Just look at what he did for the Thunder, taking them to 5th in the West, without any other All-Stars in sight. Now he’s got All-World Devin Booker and an incredibly talented pair in Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Let’s GO!
2 - The Suns went from Eric Bledsoe not wanting to be here to a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul wanting to come here. How are you feeling on the state of this franchise?
JV: The Suns are rising from the ashes of the McDonough era like a Phoenix. There is nothing but excitement around the franchise. For the first time in a long time, it feels fantastic being a Suns fan.
ML: When you trust your general manager to do his job, who is well respected around the NBA, this is how things turn out. James Jones will have players lining up at the door instead of trying to claw their way out.
KA: Phoenix has both a GM and coach that are well respected and that guys want to play for. The Suns went 8-0 in the Bubble and now brought in an All-Star point guard that will demand the very best out of the youth on this team. The future is in good hands and the future is now.
DK: I hope the Suns owner knows how good he’s suddenly got it. In little over a year, his belated choice for GM has brought respectability, accountability and now the coaches and players to bring the playoffs back to the Valley. These Suns will not only make the playoffs, but will be treated like a foregone conclusion from the jump!
3 - We will miss Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio. What is your favorite memory or play from each?
JV: For Papa Ricky it isn’t one moment, it’s a collection of moments. The way he handled himself following bad calls or in moments of high pulse, he was calm. I truly believe that his calm demeanor assisted Devin Booker in ways we’ll never fully appreciate.
As for KO, how could you not love his huge buzzer beaters and kisses to the crowd. He will be missed, but my assumption is that once the games begin, we’ll quickly forget about his on-court contributions.
ML: A day and one article later, I am over it. I am a Suns team fan and winning a championship is all I care about. The memories would be of Rubio tying his hair before each dribble and Kelly bobbing his head after a vicious dunk.
KA: They will definitely be missed but this again was a huge leap in the right direction and at the end it’s the product on the court which will surely be better. I will always remember Rubio addressing “Sans fans” when he was first signed. When I close my eyes I’ll see Oubre blowing kisses to the crowd and dunking all over Paul Millsap. I wish them nothing but the best where they go, except when they play against us.
DK: For Kelly, it’s a highs — pushups after a foul, hard slam dunks on great players, big-time clutch threes. He played extremely hard every minute on the floor. For Ricky, it was almost the opposite — no individual standout moments but a steady floor general who made sure everyone on the court knew their value and role, and got the most out of them. I will badly miss both players.
4 - The draft is almost here. Who are your top three choices for Phoenix to select if they stay at #10?
JV: Depends who is on the board, of course, but Devin Vassell is my #1 guy. If Obi is there by some miracle of God, I’d take him over Vassell, and if both are gone I’d like to see the Suns take a shot at Patrick Williams. Clearly I’m looking wing in this draft.
ML: #1- Devin Vassell, #2- Tyrell Terry, #3- Killian Hayes. Drafting a PG would be smart but DV would be to nice to pass up.
KA: My top three are probably Tyrese Haliburton, Obi Toppin and Devin Vassell. However, there are a few other guys that I’d definitely also be fine with.
DK: Killian Hayes would be great to groom as the lead guard of the future. Devin Vassell would help these playoff runs in the present. Patrick Williams could be the best of all of them. In a trade-back, I’m a fan of Bane. Having said all this, my guess is the Suns will actually take Saddiq Bey.
5 - How do you feel about potentially trading up or down?
JV: Trading down is a James Jones staple in his young career as a GM. If more assets are gained, I believe it is the right move. Desmond Bane can be acquired as well as a 2nd rounder or future draft capital. Who doesn’t like assets? OKC sure does...
ML: Trading down is most likely what will happen. The depth after the top 5 guys in the draft extends almost to the end of the first round. I trust JJ and that front office to make the right choice no matter what they choose.
KA: As John stated, JJ likes trading down. I’d be completely accepting of this. My ideal scenario likely won’t happen but I’d send the tenth pick to the Pelicans for Josh Hart and the thirteenth, then send the thirteenth to Houston with Kaminsky and Okobo for P.J. Tucker and the sixteenth. I guess we will see what James is up to.
DK: I’d like to trade down a few spots, get another veteran like last year’s acquisitions of Saric and Baynes on draft day while also grabbing Jones’ favorite under-the-radar prospect.
How about you, Suns fans?
This is a group-think exercise and you’re part of the group. What are your answers to our questions?