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Report: Thunder trading Chris Paul to Suns

Chris Paul vs. Suns

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 31: Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns on January 31, 2020 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Thunder acquired draft picks to take on Chris Paul, helped rehabilitate Paul’s value and will now trade Paul for a draft pick.

The Suns will hope their Chris Paul experience goes as well as Oklahoma City’s did.

Agreeing to an anticipated trade, Phoenix will send Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a first-round pick to the Thunder for Chris Paul.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

This seems pretty fair.

Phoenix paid a reasonable price to accelerate its rebuild around Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. Paul, 35, is due $85,569,960 the next two seasons. But he’s also still very good. He significantly boosts the Suns’ playoff odds.

The Thunder are ready to sink deeper into rebuilding/tanking, and the extra first-rounder with declining protections only helps. Oklahoma City reportedly doesn’t value Rubio and Oubre. But like Danny Green (acquired from the Lakers for Dennis Schroder), the incoming veterans can always be flipped for even more draft capital.

Likewise, Phoenix isn’t done, either.

If they wait to officially finalize this trade, the Suns could open $15,940,944 of cap room, use that space then complete the trade. Phoenix would also have the $4,767,000 room exception.

If they finalize the trade before free agency, the Suns would be limited to the mid-level exception ($9,258,000) and bi-annual exception ($3,623,000) for pursuing outside free agents. Phoenix would also retain Bird Rights to re-sign Aron Baynes, Dario Saric and Jevon Carter.

I’d think the $15,940,94 of cap space would go further. The Suns could target a power forward like Jerami Grant, Danilo Gallinari or Serge Ibaka.

Not only is this deal exciting for Phoenix in itself, it opens the door for an even more thrilling offseason and then – hopefully – season.

The Thunder are accepting a more dismal present. Jerome was the No. 24 pick last year. But he made little impact as a rookie, pretty disappointing for someone who was supposed to enter the NBA more ready and is already 23. Jalen Lecque, 20, is more of a project.

But Oklahoma City’s 2021 draft pick should be higher now, and Phoenix’s future first-rounder adds to the Thunder’s stockpile.