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Dan Bickley

Robert Sarver needs to be bold, bring All-NBA PG Chris Paul to Suns

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver sits during the first half of the NBA game against the Golden State Warriors at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 12, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Warriors 112-106.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Dear Robert:

Now is the time. Seize the day. Open your wallet. Take a chance. Swing for the fences.

Or sell the team to someone who will.

We’ve arrived at this crossroads because Chris Paul is suddenly available in the trade market, and he’s everything you need to end a 10-year playoff drought in Phoenix. He is the bold stroke we’ve all been waiting for.

Paul could be a turning point for the Sarver surname, changing the way all future free agents perceive you and your organization. Paul is clearly intrigued by playing basketball in the Valley, even though he was very confused the last time he was here.

That night, Suns fans booed Paul with great gusto, because Paul had made the Western Conference All-Star team and Devin Booker didn’t.

Paul would bring many great things to your franchise: Instant credibility. An elite point guard. A serious upgrade over Ricky Rubio. A spitfire competitor who won’t stand for juvenility in the locker room. He is the match that will light a fire under Deandre Ayton. Just you watch.

There was a time when DeAndre Hopkins and Paul were centerpieces of Houston’s sporting experience. Imagine if they both end up in Phoenix two years later.

Paul is also extremely expensive. He will be the second-highest-paid player in the NBA next season and among the oldest in the league. Your financial fervor and business acumen all but guarantee you will struggle committing over $85 million in the next two seasons to a player of his profile, an aging veteran with a long history of injuries.

Not only will his salary equate to roughly $657,000 a game next season, but he will likely miss a chunk of time with an assortment of injuries. Paul is 35, and you vividly remember how Steve Nash began to break apart at the same age.

You’ll have to reconcile that upfront, like the Cardinals did with Hopkins and his practice habits.

But this is not the time to dwell on fear, frugality or worst-case scenarios. Paul is a natural-born leader, something your team sorely lacks. His presence will raise the stakes and the platform in Phoenix, appeasing Devin Booker and quelling any of his growing wanderlust.

Maybe Paul would rub Booker the wrong way, like Jimmy Butler did with the Timberwolves. But I’m betting otherwise. I think Booker flourishes in the presence of a superior, grateful that he no longer has to carry a team by himself, performing in darkness and anonymity.

Paul is also the perfect acquisition to commemorate a renovated arena and a brand-new practice facility. In 1992, the Suns paired the opening of America West Arena with the acquisition of Charles Barkley, riding the combination all the way to the NBA Finals.

Your predecessor was also a home run hitter who swung for the fences, even if it meant striking out occasionally. And that’s what this moment requires from you.

Owners are ultimately responsible for big-ticket acquisitions. Jerry Colangelo recruited Randy Johnson. Ken Kendrick initiated the pursuit of Zack Greinke. And now it’s up to you to deliver Paul at all (most) costs. If Paul really wants to be here, you can make this happen. You must make this happen.

The Suns have real momentum. Monty Williams was a terrific hire. Your team hasn’t lost a game since the middle of March. And now Paul is within your grasp. So is a playoff team right here, right now, and all it takes is money.

After all we’ve been through together, only a fool would listen to the dollar signs.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier