A little over an hour after the NBA’s trade moratorium lifted Monday, the first domino fell.
The Suns are finalizing a trade for Chris Paul, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The Thunder are also sending Abdel Nader to Phoenix and acquiring Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick, per ESPN. It’s a pick with various protections, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The reported deal means one major potential Sixers trade target is off the board. James Harden and Patty Mills are two players the team has been linked with, and we’ll likely hear more over the next week.
Outside of the 30-year-old Rubio, it’s a young return for Oklahoma City. The 24-year-old Oubre, who averaged a career-high 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, is only under contract for one more season. Jerome and Lecque didn’t contribute much for the Suns as rookies but should have opportunities with the Thunder’s youth movement. And OKC GM Sam Presti is adding yet another first-round pick to an impressive stash.
Given that Al Horford has three years left on his contract and Tobias Harris has four years remaining, it appears unlikely either player would’ve been very attractive in a Paul trade. Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz and Zhaire Smith are all in their early-20s and might’ve held varying degrees of appeal to the Thunder, but the Sixers still would’ve needed to match salaries. Paul will make $41.4 million next season and has a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22.
It’ll be interesting to see what the 35-year-old can do in Phoenix after an All-Star season with Oklahoma City. Led by former Sixers assistant Monty Williams, the Suns went 8-0 in the NBA’s Disney World “bubble,” narrowly missing out on a playoff spot. The backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker sounds like an exciting, offensively dangerous tandem.