A new report has added to the months-long speculation that the Phoenix Suns are expected to do all they can to trade future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul, and it will likely come before his contract becomes fully guaranteed at the end of June.
After moments of pure brilliance at the end of the season and during the 2023 NBA playoffs the Phoenix Suns saw their season come to a disappointing end on Thursday night when they had their doors blown off at home in a 125-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets in a Game 6 of their semifinal series.
While Kevin Durant and Devin Booker will certainly take a fair amount of heat for the early postseason ouster, a good bit will also be tossed in the direction of a couple of key players missing on Thursday night, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton. Both men let the Suns down during the playoffs for different reasons and both could be on the trade block this summer.
However, Ayton and the over $101 million left on his contract in the next three seasons could be difficult to move. Paul, on the other hand, despite his age and long injury history, might be slightly easier to ship off with two partially guaranteed years left on his contract.
Speculation that the Phoenix Suns could soon move on from Chris Paul has followed the team all season and only intensified after the Kevin Durant trade when he seemed like a poor fit beside him and Booker.
On Thursday night, ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon added to the rumors by stating during an appearance on the “Hoop Collective” podcast that he expects the team to “aggressively” shop the 12-time All-Star before his salary for next season goes from $15 to $30 million.
Assuming the Phoenix Suns work hard to trade Paul, here are five teams that might be interested in the 38-year-old great.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a difficult position heading into the offseason. There are many indications James Harden will opt out and leave in free agency but they will have a tough time replacing him with another star in free agency or a trade. If the team believes Tyrese Maxey can be the new No. 2 guy behind MVP Joel Embiid, they could see Chris Paul as a good fit to run the offense and be a locker room leader for another run at the NBA Finals in 2023-2024.
The Memphis Grizzlies seem right on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals and tried to make a big splash during the NBA trade deadline in February. In the summer they may be on the hunt for bigger fish than Paul, but they could certainly use an adult in that locker room. He could be a savvy way to mature this team and help their young core develop mentally and take a big step forward next season.
Despite it seeming obvious that the Washington Wizards should blow up their roster, there is a strong chance that both Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal are on the team for the next few seasons. If the Wizards are desperate to get back to the playoffs and return to winning ways, the Phoenix Suns star has made a Hall-of-Fame resume on getting multiple organizations to the postseason.
Speaking of being desperate to get back to the postseason, the Houston Rockets have made that their primary goal heading into next season and are expected to trade and spend their way into making that a reality this summer. If the team fails miserably in pursuit of James Harden or another star player, Chris Paul has a long history of improving young teams and taking them to the next level. A return to Houston after a drama-filled run a few years ago isn’t impossible at this juncture.
The Chicago Bulls have a good and expensive point guard already on the roster with Lonzo Ball. However, there are no guarantees on when he will return from his ongoing knee troubles or the player he will be. If the Bulls hold on to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine and try another run at the conference finals next season, Paul would be a strong replacement option for Ball in the short term.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.