The Thunder are Chris Paul’s fourth NBA team and, from the looks of it, they may not be his last. According to Tim Bontemps and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Suns have emerged as a serious trade suitor for the 10-time All-Star, though no deal is imminent.
Traded to Oklahoma City after a two-year stint in Houston, Paul enjoyed a career resurgence last season, leading the Thunder to a surprise playoff berth while earning his first All-Star nod since 2016. The 6’1” point guard masterfully filled the void left by Russell Westbrook (who, as reports have suggested, could also be on the move this offseason) providing late-game poise and veteran leadership in equal measure. Paul looked right at home in OKC, where he began his career as a member of the New Orleans Hornets when the team was displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
By all accounts, Paul seemed to enjoy playing for the Thunder, but looking at the bigger picture, the 35-year-old was never in the team’s long-term plans. Realistically, the Thunder are closer to fringe playoff status than a true title contender in the murderer’s row Western Conference, a hard truth the organization has apparently come to grips with. Luckily the Thunder are well-equipped for a rebuild after acquiring five first-round picks from the Clippers last summer in exchange for Paul George.
After an impressive showing in the Orlando Bubble (8-0), the up-and-coming Suns look like a team on the rise. Pairing Paul, an etched-in-stone Hall-of-Famer whenever he decides to hang up his Jordans, with scoring prodigy Devin Booker would put Phoenix in the conversation with Houston (Westbrook and James Harden) and Portland (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum) for the league’s most potent backcourt. With former first overall pick DeAndre Ayton also in tow, the Suns certainly have the heavy artillery to make their presence felt in the Western Conference, particularly if Phoenix’s rumored Paul interest comes to fruition.