The Phoenix Suns are embroiled in trade negotiations for Thunder All-NBA guard Chris Paul. The veteran point guard enjoyed a major bounceback season in Oklahoma City, and the Thunder are clearly heading into a rebuild.
A trade for Paul would give Phoenix one of the best backcourts in the league. Paul is the perfect partner for Devin Booker, an all-time playmaker who could cover some of Booker’s defensive deficiencies.
Phoenix has a lot of decisions to make this offseason as it is. There are team options for Frank Kaminsky, Cameron Payne and Cheick Diallo. Aron Baynes and Dario Saric are free agents (unrestricted and restricted, respectively). If they let all of those players go, they would free up over $18 million in cap space.
There are several different scenarios for a Paul trade. Ricky Rubio‘s $17 million is certain to be included in a potential deal. Kelly Oubre and Frank Kaminsky could be added to maintain cap space to sign other free agents and allow the Suns to retain the 10th overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Or, Phoenix could use their cap space to absorb Paul’s contract. This would need to go through after the draft, with the Suns selecting a player on Oklahoma City’s behalf at 10. They would have to let Baynes and Saric go and decline all options, but they could keep Oubre.
Here are three free agents who should interest the Suns if they can land CP3…
Christian Wood has gone a bit under the radar this offseason, and it’s hard to tell why. He proved himself as an adept stretch five who can play the four when required. Wood shoots the three (38.6% last season), he’s athletic, and he can switch defensively. What more does a team want?
The contract is going to be bigger than many expect. The Pistons big man is probably only a viable option for Phoenix if they have considerable cap space. It’s possible Wood gets the mid-level over four years, but the Suns would have to wait until free agency to complete the Paul trade in that scenario and send Oubre and Rubio to OKC.
After a strong year with the Pacers, Justin Holiday will be a much-desired player this offseason. He can defend one-through-four, he shot over 40% from three last season, and should be available for around the $5 million per season mark.
Phoenix would likely need to have cap space or the full mid-level available to lure Holiday to Arizona. There’s not a lot of money out there for him, but the Pacers can offer considerably more than the $4 million room exception.
Letting Saric and Baynes walk leaves the Suns very short in the frontcourt. Wood might prove to be too expensive, but there are a lot of good value big men on the market. Nerlens Noel is a standout option to fill in at backup centre.
Noel is a bouncy athlete. He can guard on the perimeter on occasion, and provides more than adept rim protection (2.9 blocks per 36 last season).
The former sixth overall pick could be available for the minimum, and might be tempted to follow Paul to Phoenix.