Chris Paul Traded to Suns from Thunder for Ricky Rubio, More

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul (3) moves the ball upcourt against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Chris Paul is on the move again, as the Oklahoma City Thunder announced Monday that they have traded the veteran to the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix will also receive Abdel Nader while sending Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick to Oklahoma City.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic provided more details on the draft pick in the trade:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: Suns‘ future first to the Thunder is protected 1-12 in 2022, 1-10 in 2023, 1-8 in 2024 and unprotected in 2025. https://t.co/e4AFUN3OfD

"Chris' leadership and competitive approach to the game will have an immeasurable impact on our team," Suns general manager James Jones said.

This is the third time Paul has been traded since 2017. He's gone from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets to the Thunder in the past few seasons.

The trade to Oklahoma City sent Russell Westbrook to Houston, seemingly signaling a rebuild after the Thunder also traded away Paul George. There was plenty of speculation Paul would be flipped again before 2019-20 or agree to a buyout to move to a contender, but he stayed with the team and turned it into a playoff squad.

Despite low expectations entering the year, the Thunder earned the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and took the Rockets to seven games before losing in the first round.

Paul was a key part of the team's success, averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game. He was the squad's lone All-Star, the 10th selection of his career, and led the team with 8.9 win shares, per Basketball Reference.

He finished ninth in the NBA in win shares, which is the ninth time in the last 10 years that he finished within the top 15 in that category.

A second-team All-NBA selection also gave him nine all-league honors in his career.

The 35-year-old remains a reliable player who can help on both ends of the court, having led the league in assists four times and steals six times. He has been named first-team All-Defense seven times in his career.

Paul will now get another chance to help a young team raise its expectations going into the season. The Suns have quality young players in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but they haven't made the playoffs in 10 seasons and could use another veteran to help get the most out of the roster.

The Thunder have an exciting future led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and now Oubre—who set career highs with 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season. Rubio should also help replace Paul after averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 assists per game for the Suns.

This could keep them in contention for a playoff spot going into 2020-21.

This deal also helps clear Paul's salary from their books. The veteran is set to make $41.4 million next season and has a $44.2 million player option for 2021-22.

Phoenix will absorb that cost as it hopes to improve upon last season's result of finishing one win away from the playoffs.