Suns acquire Chris Paul to share court with fellow all-star Booker
Oubre, Rubio among 4 players and 1st-round pick headed to Thunder
Chris Paul holds a $44 million option for the 2021-22 season, a massive payday that may have kept some teams from trying to trade for the All-Star point guard.
The Phoenix Suns weren't deterred.
They have a pair of All-Stars in their backcourt now, with hopes the duo of Paul and Devin Booker — one of the league's most dynamic young scorers — will be enough to get the franchise back to the post-season for the first time since 2010.
The trade sending Paul to the Suns from Oklahoma City was completed Monday night, a blockbuster to start what could be a wild few days of NBA transactions before training camps begin next month.
The particulars: The Suns get Paul and forward Abdel Nader, while the Thunder get Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a protected 2022 first-round pick.
"We are excited to welcome Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix," Suns general manager James Jones said. "Chris' leadership and competitive approach to the game will have an immeasurable impact on our team. Abdel possesses all the traits on and off the court that will complement our culture."
Rubio reacted to the trade news with a tweet, several hours before the moves got league approval and could be considered official: "... what a business," he wrote.
Huge leap for Suns
It is a huge leap for the Suns, who went 8-0 inside the NBA's restart bubble at Walt Disney World in a frantic, but futile, quest to make the playoffs. Paul is owed about $41 million for this season and has that player option for next season, but the Suns obviously felt that is money worth spending.
Combined, he and Booker will make around $140 million in the next two seasons alone. But the Suns now have a starting backcourt that should be as good — or better — than just about any other NBA team.
"We want to thank Chris for the contributions he has made to the Thunder and the Oklahoma City community both this season and during his initial tenure in 2005-06 with the Hornets," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. "Chris has been the consummate leader and has left a tremendous legacy in a short period of time."
THE NEW PHOENIX SON<a href="https://twitter.com/CP3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CP3</a> in The Valley! <a href="https://t.co/jJVrAGTR6W">pic.twitter.com/jJVrAGTR6W</a>—@Suns
It's the second trade that the Thunder agreed to in a span of two days, the first coming Sunday when they agreed to send Dennis Schroder to the Los Angeles Lakers for Danny Green and the 28th pick in Wednesday's draft. That transaction will be completed after the draft, a person with knowledge of those particulars told AP.
That trade, along with the Paul trade, could give the Thunder as many as 17 first-round picks in the next seven drafts.
Paul was an All-Star for the 10th time this past season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.7 assists. Phoenix becomes his fourth team in less than four years; he was with the Los Angeles Clippers through the 2016-17 season, then spent two years in Houston, then last year with the Thunder after being acquired as part of the trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Rockets.
"Man, I'm 35 years old and I still get a chance to play basketball every day and say that's my way of life," Paul said last week, when asked about trade rumours during an appearance in the Time100 speakers' series. "That is crazy in itself so regardless what happens, I'll be ready."
Reunited with coach Monty Williams
Paul is also president of the National Basketball Players Association. The trade reunites him with Suns coach Monty Williams; Paul played for Williams in 2010-11 when Williams was in his first season coaching the New Orleans Hornets.
"He is the kind of guy that changes organizations," Williams said before the Suns and Thunder played on Jan. 31. "Everywhere he has gone, he has made everybody better. That is just who Chris is."
Oubre averaged a career-high 18.7 points last season. Rubio is entering his 10th NBA season and has also played for the Timberwolves and Jazz. He signed a three-year, $51 million deal with the Suns before last season and averaged 13 points and 8.8 assists with Phoenix.
Jerome was the 24th overall pick out of Virginia last season and played in 31 games as a rookie while averaging 3.3 points. Lecque played in five games last season.
Bucks adding top defender Holiday: report
Point guard Jrue Holiday is being traded from New Orleans to Milwaukee, which is aiming to give two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo the improved roster that he seeks with the decision on his supermax contract extension looming, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.
The Pelicans are getting Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and a package of future first-round draft picks from the Bucks, the person told The Associated Press.
ESPN also said the Bucks were executing a second trade with Sacramento, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin James going to Milwaukee for Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova.
Holiday will almost certainly make them better. Widely considered one of the best defenders in the NBA, he averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists last season and now joins Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on a Milwaukee roster that will obviously look very different than it did this past season.
Rockets reportedly deal Robert Covington to Blazers
Veteran forward Robert Covington appears headed to his fourth team in just over two years as the Houston Rockets agreed to a trade that would send him to the Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN reported Monday.
The Rockets reportedly would receive the 16th overall pick in Wednesday's NBA draft, another future first-round draft pick and veteran swingman Trevor Ariza in exchange for Covington.
The deal won't be completed until after the draft, per ESPN.
Covington, 29, rejoined the Rockets in February as part of a four-team trade that sent him out of Minnesota. He opened his NBA career by playing seven games for Houston in 2013-14 before spending the next 4 1/2 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers. In November 2018, Covington joined the Timberwolves as part of the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia.
In 70 games (68 starts) last season for the Timberwolves and the Rockets combined, Covington averaged 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds. Over 396 career games (348 starts), Covington is averaging 12.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Ariza, 35, is set for his third stint with the Rockets, having played in Houston in 2009-10 and again from 2014-15 to 2017-18. He would be changing teams for the fifth time since July 2018.
Ariza split last season between the Sacramento Kings and the Trail Blazers, and he put up eight points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
With files from Field Level Media