PHOENIX SUNS

Phoenix Suns acquire Chris Paul in trade with Thunder

Nov 16, 2020, 7:22 PM | Updated: 8:04 pm
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul (3) dives for a loose ball, beating Phoenix Suns forward Kel...

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul (3) dives for a loose ball, beating Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) to it during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Phoenix. The Thunder won 111-107. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Phoenix Suns announced on Monday night that they have acquired 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a protected 2022 first-round pick.

The pick is top-12 protected in 2022, top-10 protected in 2023, top-eight protected in 2024 and unprotected in 2025, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The Suns will receive forward Abdel Nader in the trade along with Paul.

Paul, a point guard with eight career All-NBA nods and nine NBA All-Defensive team recognitions, joins a Suns core led by 24-year-old shooting guard Devin Booker and 22-year-old center Deandre Ayton.

Paul, 35, is coming off an All-NBA season in which he led the Thunder to the playoffs. He averaged 17.6 points and 6.7 assists per game, making the All-Star team for the first time since 2017.

The 10-time All-Star was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Thunder in the summer of 2019 as a part of the Russell Westbrook deal. He has two years left on his deal, making $41.3 million next season and has a $44.2 million player option for the year after.

Because of the size of Paul’s incoming contract, the Suns were forced to part with Rubio’s, Oubre’s and smaller contracts, which were required to make the deal.

Oubre’s contract had one year remaining, and his departure surely leads to bigger roles for wings Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, who started at the forward spots during the Suns’ 8-0 run in Disney World that ended Phoenix’s 2019-20 season on a high.

After coming to the Suns in a trade from the Washington Wizards during the 2018-19 season, Oubre quickly attached himself to Phoenix fans. His energy on the court and “Valley Boyz” nickname for his teammates reached out to the community, and his 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game gave the Suns a complementary secondary scorer alongside Booker.

With Oklahoma City rebuilding, Oubre’s remaining $14.4 million on his contract could be a coveted asset to dangle on the market before the trade deadline.

Rubio, 30, had two years left on his deal that pay out $17 million and $17.8 million. His single season with Phoenix was a success, as he averaged 13.0 points and 8.8 assists (the NBA’s fourth-best mark) in 2019-20, bringing stability to the point guard position.

But Paul, while older, is still playing at another level.

After playing as a ball-dominating force for the Houston Rockets from 2017-19, he stepped into a different role with a young Thunder team this past year. He shared the backcourt with second-year pro Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and bench scorer Dennis Schroder.

Paul played for Suns head coach Monty Williams in New Orleans (2010-11) and was drafted to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets by current Suns vice president of basketball operations Jeff Bower in 2005.

The point guard remained with the franchise until 2011 before leaving via trade to the Los Angeles Clippers. He played for the Clippers through 2017.

As a long-time president of the National Basketball Players Association, Paul also has experience with current Phoenix general manager James Jones, who in 2017 was secretary-treasurer of the NBPA.

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