The uncomfortable truth: Chris Paul may be over as a serviceable guard who can provide positive value on the court for a contender.
After he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, Paul helped turn the organization into one of the best teams in the league. But he is averaging a career-low 13.4 points per game and he has struggled to stay healthy enough to remain on the floor for prolonged periods.
As such, according to league insider Marc Stein, the ‘word is’ that this has caused the Suns to ‘start assessing’ what their future looks like once he is no longer their point guard.
Yahoo’s Jake Fischer also noted that the Suns are ‘in search of backcourt improvements’ before the deadline. Meanwhile, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the front office is also reportedly willing to move a first-round pick and take on long-term salary for ‘good players’ and ‘winning’ trades.
With that in mind, here are seven of the potential trade targets that Phoenix may pursue at the deadline as they consider long-term replacements for CP3.
7. Trae Young
Let’s be honest with ourselves: Trae Young isn’t going to be traded, at least not anytime soon.
We recently detailed how the Atlanta Hawks have given increased power to 27-year-old Nick Ressler, whose father owns the franchise. Nick is reportedly close with Young, and the guard may actually feel more empowered than ever.
But at the same time, both the Suns and the Hawks are middling .500 teams and that is where neither franchise expected to be this late in the season. If the Hawks decided to shake it up, the Suns could potentially build a mildly enticing package around former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton.
6. Kyle Lowry
If the Suns are imagining a future beyond Chris Paul, who is 37 years old, I’m not entirely sure what trading for Kyle Lowry would accomplish.
That being said, if the Suns really wanted to pursue a floor general with an impressive resume, there are few in the NBA who could bring the leadership and experience that Lowry would provide.
5. Mike Conley
Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz will turn 36 years old before next season begins, so like Lowry, he wouldn’t exactly bring any of the coveted youth that Phoenix may want in a long-term replacement for Chris Paul.
Conley, however, is one of the most well-respected teammates in the NBA and could potentially bring stability into a locker room that has struggled to find consistency this season.
Even though there are reportedly several interested suitors for Conley, like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers, it is unclear if the Jazz would actually be willing to move their most stabilizing force.
4. D’Angelo Russell
According to Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell is “definitely” a name mentioned in trade chatter and it has been since the offseason.
The former No. 2 overall pick and 2019 NBA All-Star guard is in the final year of an expiring contract.
If the Timberwolves have no plans to keep him beyond this season, the Suns could potentially pry him away using mostly draft capital and salary cap filler considering the market “does not appear to be particularly hot” for Russell at the moment.
Phoenix star Devin Booker has called Russell his “favorite player” and he was reportedly unhappy the organization did not try to sign the former Ohio State standout in 2020. But according to Duane Rankin, the front office had concerns about how Russell would influence Booker off the court.
3. Terry Rozier
The Suns reportedly pursued Terry Rozier in 2019 and he nearly signed there before the Boston Celtics arranged a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets. Now, NBA insider Marc Stein mentioned Rozier is once again a potential target for the Suns. The Hornets are expected to listen to suitors for Rozier, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Rozier is quietly averaging a career-high 21.4 points per game while also recording a personal-best 5.2 assists per game.
However, this has also been his least efficient campaign since joining the Hornets. His shot chart indicates that he has been either average or below average relative to his position from virtually every zone of the floor.
Rozier is still owed $24.9 million average annual value over each of the next three seasons, so he would eat into Phoenix’s expenditures fairly quickly.
2. Immanuel Quickley
It didn’t take fans long to notice that Suns coach Monty Williams was quick to praise Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks. Williams compared Quickley to Jamal Crawford because both can “get it going” in so many ways. According to Marc Stein, Quickley is a potential trade target for Phoenix.
Quickley deserves serious attention for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. His plus-minus is currently near the best among all bench players and the Knicks outscore opponents by an additional 10.4 points per 100 possessions when he is on the floor relative to when is not, which is one of the best marks in all of the NBA.
While the Knicks were “willingly calling” about Quickley earlier this season, they are reportedly becoming “increasingly reluctant” to move him. Per HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, Phoenix would have to beat offers from the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, and others.
1. Fred VanVleet
Perhaps the best overall fit for the Suns is Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors, an NBA champion who got his first All-Star nod last season. He is one of the rumored targets for the Suns, per Marc Stein.
It’s unclear how much Phoenix would have to surrender to land his services. But the Suns and Orlando Magic were recently mentioned as potential suitors in free agency for VanVleet, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Perhaps the Suns and Raptors could be at the center of a mega-deal at the deadline involving some of the big-name players who could reportedly be on the move, including some combination of VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Deandre Ayton, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, and perhaps even Paul.