The Phoenix Suns were seen as early favorites to acquire star guard Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets after he requested a trade on Friday.
It made sense. Phoenix has a surplus of young talent, including forwards Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.
Alas, it was not to be. In shocking fashion, Brooklyn sent Irving to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday for a package centering on Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and a 2029 first-round pick. Despite Irving being seen as a malcontent, this seemed to be a below-market haul for Brooklyn.
The backdrop here is Phoenix’ previous offer for Irving. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who broke the Irving trade news on Sunday, the Suns offered up Chris Paul, Jae Crowder and a first-round pick for Irving.
This gives us a sense of what Irving’s trade market was. According to Charania, the Suns would have “clinched” a deal for Irving if they had offered up two additional first-round picks. That never came to fruition.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn was also in discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers about sending Irving to Southern California. Those talks hit a snag when the Lakers offered up Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks (2027, 2029) for Westbrook. Brooklyn was said to be demanding that package as well as young talent, including Austin Reaves and Max Christie.
Circling back to the Phoenix Suns for a second here. They have been rumored in nearly every potential blockbuster deal ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. That includes interest in Irving’s former teammate with the Nets, Kevin Durant, should he be made available.
Set to take over this week, new Suns owner Mat Ishbia has set an edict for general manager James Jones to acquire a star player to team up with Devin Booker. That apparently includes using Paul as trade bait.
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The fact that Phoenix was unwilling to part with one of Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and Deandre Ayton in trade talks with Brooklyn is telling. In addition to its draft pick assets, the team is using CP3 as bait.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given that Phoenix has been scouring the trade market for a long-term replacement.
Paul, 37, is in the back end of his career and has found himself injury-plagued throughout the 2022-23 campaign. In fact, he has missed 21 of 55 games this season.
- Chris Paul stats (2022-23): 13.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.6 APG, 44% shooting, 39% 3-point
The Suns have been linked to Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet. Making a move of that ilk would require giving up at least one of the three players mentioned above. A deal would also likely have to include a third team with it being highly unlikely that Toronto has interest in Paul.
Either way we spin it, the Phoenix Suns are going to make a move ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. It’s one of the top storylines as the deadline approaches.