Phoenix rising for Paul in Thunder trade

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Ten-time All-Star Chris Paul is joining the Phoenix Suns from the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a blockbuster deal that sends four players and a draft pick the other way, Phoenix confirmed yesterday.

Under the deal, Paul and teammate Abdel Nader will head to the Suns in exchange for Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque.

Oklahoma City will also receive a 2022 first-round draft pick as part of the move, which signals the Suns’ determination to break into playoff contention next season.

“Chris’ leadership and competitive approach to the game will have an immeasurable impact on our team,” Suns General Manager James Jones said.

Paul, 35, had two more seasons remaining on his Oklahoma City contract after joining the Thunder in 2019 following two seasons at the Houston Rockets. Prior to that, Paul spent six years with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The move will see Paul join up with Phoenix’s Devin Booker, one of the brightest talents in the NBA.

Last season, Paul played in 70 of the Thunder’s 72 games, averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds to lead the team to the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Phoenix coach Monty Williams has long been an admirer of Paul, saying before a Suns-Thunder clash in January, “He is the kind of guy that changes organisations.”

“Everywhere he has gone, he has made everybody better,” Williams said. “That is just who Chris is.”

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul. PHOTO: AFP