When the Phoenix Suns acquired Kevin Durant before the 2023 NBA trade deadline, the expectation was championship or bust for their organization. When newly-appointed owner Matt Ishbia executed his first legitimate move with the Suns, the desire was not to win only six playoff games and succumb to the No. 1 Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Devin Booker produced Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant-like numbers in a couple of games, but it was not enough to propel their squad to a better position. KD had games wherein NBA pundits would be reminded that he is arguably one of the best scorers in NBA history. The star-studded duo lacked ample support as Chris Paul sustained a groin injury in Game 2, while Deandre Ayton struggled immensely in his matchup against Nikola Jokic.
With the Suns lacking the flexibility to bolster their roster for 2023-24, there is one player who will be difficult to move, but they will have more pieces that complement the tandem of Booker and Durant if he is traded.
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The offseason has not even started for Phoenix, but their franchise has a payroll of $165 million for 2023-24. The new salary cap rules will limit the Suns to adding players on minimum contracts. However, it was evident that they missed the services of incredible role players, such as Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.
With Chris Paul’s contract, he still has two guaranteed seasons left in his deal, worth over $60 million. At 38 years of age, Paul has not been the same player, so it is difficult for the fanbase to expect him to tally All-Star-like numbers for the remaining years of his contract. He remains to be a superb NBA athlete, but the salary he receives does not equate to the numbers he produces.
With the combination of age and statistics of Paul, it will be insurmountable to trade him for an All-Star caliber type of guy. The more feasible scenario is moving him for two or three role players who fit the head coach Monty Williams’ system and mesh with the nucleus of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. By chopping down Paul’s salary to numerous individuals, it would be easier to move on from those players if they fail with the Suns.
Due to the primary reasons for Paul’s low trade value, most or all of the organizations would have similar sentiments, so the role players they may receive in return would also not have a high trade value. Thus, it would be vital for the franchise to take their chances on someone like Collin Sexton, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Tim Hardaway Jr.
These players do not bring eye-popping numbers, but it might be the more brilliant move for the long-term outlook of the Suns. The injury history of Paul is another major reason they must heavily consider moving him in the offseason. The postseason injuries have been a staple for CP3, and it was the same situation this year, which negatively affected their chances of bagging the franchise’s first NBA championship.
Die-hard NBA fans might wonder why Deandre Ayton is not the first person on the list. The rationale is that his trade value likely took a drastic hit in the Nuggets series because of his subpar play and questionable attitude off the court. There are a plethora of characteristics lacking in Ayton, but with Chris Paul, he can still be the third or fourth-best player in a championship team.
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