Sun’s Trade Rumors: Phoenix begins planning for future after Chris Paul, reportedly eyeing point guards

Chris Paul led the Phoenix Suns to within two wins of the NBA championship in 2021, but things haven’t gone as planned since then. Phoenix suffered an embarrassing home loss in Game 7 of Round 2 last season to the Dallas Mavericks. Now they’re hovering around .500, with Paul recording career lows in scoring (13.7 points per game) as well as most value metrics. Phoenix acquired Paul hoping for an immediate push. Two years later, his window seems to be closing.

Paul is now 37 years old. Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and DeAndre Ayton are all between the ages of 24 and 26. This is still a fairly young team with an older cornerstone, and now that the Suns have seemingly slipped out of the immediate championship picture, they rightly are given what life after Paul will be like. According to Marc Stein, the Suns have begun to assess their future after Paul and are therefore eyeing point guards like Fred VanVleet, Immanuel Quickley and Terry Rozier at the close of trading.

Phoenix is ​​in a pretty enviable position from a trading perspective. The Suns still have all of their first-round picks available. You will eventually be able to turn Jae Crowder into something else of value as well. But from a salary standpoint, the Suns almost need to include Paul if they plan to strike a big deal. That’s not true in the short term, with the Suns leaving nearly $25 million in expiring pay dangling between Crowder, Dario Saric and Torrey Craig, but if they plan to import a starting caliber point guard, they’ll likely have to step out of the rest of Paul’s contract.

Paul’s deal is only partially guaranteed beyond this season, but for obvious reasons a team already paying the luxury tax would prefer not to pay Paul $15.8 million to play for another team next season. It just makes more sense to use a $28.4 million cap as a suitable salary on a deal that brings in an outside point guard this season.

Each of the goals Stein mentions bring different things to the table. VanVleet can suit almost any team in terms of shooting and defense, but Phoenix is ​​among the least equipped to max it out. The suns never reach the edge. VanVleet’s shot diet consists almost entirely of 3 pointers. The Suns could make up for that in other ways, but given the rest of their roster, they’d probably prefer someone who can attack the rim. Of the three, Rozier is the best there. He’s making 5.3 shots per game in the restricted area, about a quarter of the 21.6 attempts the Suns average has as a team. However, at just 6-1, he’s relatively inefficient near the rim, even if he gets there frequently, and he’s tied to a long-term contract that the thrifty Hornets are trying to move.

Quickley is not yet tied to a long-term deal but will need one after next season. He’s never been a regular starter in the NBA, so Phoenix has no way of knowing what he’d look like as a long-term backcourt partner for Booker. However, that could be an advantage since his salary is currently so low that the Suns could afford to keep Paul while they create a transition plan.

Ultimately, Phoenix’s next move will be dictated by new owner Mat Ishbia. He is expected to take control of the team before the trade deadline and if winning now is his priority, Phoenix will likely direct his fortunes towards players who can complement Paul and the current core. However, if he wants to focus on maximizing the entirety of Booker’s prime, there’s a good chance Phoenix is ​​pursuing a new point guard that fits into the rest of the roster’s timeline.

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