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3 galaxy brain Chris Paul trades to blow your chakras wide open

Jan 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) looks to post up against Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) in the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns probably aren’t trading Chris Paul. But they might be and that’s enough for us to get off a few galaxy-brain trade ideas.

A disastrous year for the Phoenix Suns has them, reportedly, considering their options for Chris Paul. The veteran point guard is under contract for one more year at just over $30 million before his salary becomes only partially guaranteed for the final year of his deal.

The Suns have faded mightily with Devin Booker out of the lineup and even if he comes back for the playoffs, their place in the standings and the cracks that have appeared might knock them out of contention. It might be worth using leverage while they have it and trying to figure out a path to quickly pivot back toward contention before Booker and Deandre Ayton become even more dissatisfied.

The Suns have reportedly been exploring the trade possibilities for Paul and the news that their new ownership group will take control before the trade deadline raises the possibility of even more chaos. I’ve done my best to channel that chaos potential into three of the wildest trade ideas I could think of. You’re welcome. (Or sorry, depending on which team you root for.)

3. Chris Paul joins the New York circus

The Knicks and Chris Paul have always seemed like a match that happen eventually, if only because of New York’s interest in stars who are just past their prime. But there’s an argument for them trading for him now and not just because they’re the league’s premier schadenfreude factory.

Suns Get

Immanuel Quickley

Obi Toppin

Evan Fournier

2023 1st-round pick (WAS)

The Suns get a pretty decent haul here. Quickley and Toppin probably aren’t future stars but they look like they could be solid pieces and both have upside that clearly hasn’t been tapped in New York. They also could probably slide neatly into starting roles and should look better with a different structure around them. Taking back Fournier’s contract hurts but the Suns have to take some pain back for getting off Paul’s contract. They also add a first-round pick that’s lottery protected this year and unlikely to convey. But it’s also the best of the Knicks extra picks because the protection shrinks each year it doesn’t convey, unlike the Pistons’ or Mavs’ picks.

Paul might be a tough fit next to Jalen Brunson but he’s proved over the past few years that he’s willing to cede responsibility to another primary offensive creator. His contract is large but they already were going to have to pay Fournier for one more year before declining his club option. So really they’re only adding one more year and around $8 million to their books. In return, they get someone who can really help the young talent cohere. They’re probably still not a championship contender but the Knicks could move up a few slots and change their culture with an eye toward contention next season.

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