An Uncle Rico Production

Yesterday, my phone began blowing up with alerts & text messages from those in the know.

“It happened. CP3 is gone”. 

 HOF PG Chris Paul was traded yesterday in a package that also includes Landry Shamet & multiple 2nd round picks to the Washington Wizards for star SG Bradley Beal.

So many things to unpack.

Suns Grade: B+

Beal is no doubt an NBA talent, but his injury habit coupled with Kevin Durant’s leaves the Suns a lower probability for margin of error. I doubt the three will all be on the court at the same time for more than 42 games.

Beal is an average defender who has room for improvement, and hiring a defensive-minded HC Frank Vogel is no guarantee the Suns will become the “Frankcers” of the early 2010s. Yes, he won a title with the Lakers in 2020 inside the bubble after a season molested by COVID mandates, but they were far from a defensive legend. More like a myth.

Factor that in with the fact that the only guaranteed PG to fill CP3’s role is Cameron Payne (coming off a disastrous playoffs), and you’ve got many pundits scratching their heads. Now, Devin Booker showed he can play PG, and I actually like this trade for that reason specifically. PGs have become more of a score first, pass second position in the New NBA. While still being the QB of the offense, there is more of an emphasis of offensive production from that position.

You want the ball in the hands of your best player, so having Booker touch the ball on 95% of the possessions he’s playing is not a bad thing. His playoff numbers were RIDICULOUS after assuming the injured CP3s role at the PG position. Which leads into my next point.

The only three options for the Suns & Chris Paul were to keep him, waive him, or trade him. This is where it gets tricky.

The first option was to keep him. The Suns were on the books for CP3 at $60.8 million through 2024-2025. That means next season he’d be owed roughly $30.8M. At 38 years old & steady decline of production, that is not the type of asset you want on the books.

It’s the equivalent of having that old fart in the office who makes more than 92% of the staff, shuffles around all day, calls out of work constantly for doctor’s appointments, & tells other people what to do based solely on the idea he’s done “it” before. No bueno.

The other option was to waive Paul. Only $15.8M of that $30.8M was guaranteed money, meaning unloading CP3 would’ve saved them +$14M. Finding a trade partner to dump his ludacris contract upon was going to be slim to none. While he still has some trade clout, the odds were not in a trade’s favor for PHX.

Plus, with the league’s new “stretch provision” salary payment policy, PHX could’ve spread out that $15.8 over 5 years, accruing a mere $3.2M salary cap hit each season. Much better than the $30.8 for next season. 

The third option was to trade Paul. Odds of finding a suitor willing to eat Paul’s debt & lack of production were slim at best. The Suns would have to take on a contract from a team looking to rebuild, starting with their own unloading of a max-contract player.

Enter Bradley Beal & the Washington Wizards.


Beal is a company man, choosing to stay with a floundering franchise in hopes of building it into something instead of departing for brighter pastures at the time of his last contract negotiations. Something has to be said for a kid who wants to see the job through. It’s reminiscent of what Devin Booker did with his last contract.

Instead of leaving the Suns (who were a dumpster fire of an organization) he chose to stay loyal to the logo. Success shortly followed. Unfortunately for Beal, that was not the case. While Beal has injury issues of his own, he is NOWHERE NEAR the breakability of a historically injured asset, Chris Paul, come playoffs.

While he doesn’t fill the immediate need of another PG with the departure of Paul, the Suns get a younger, more athletic, pure-scorer who has yet to play with a roster of comparables. There will be a learning curve when it comes to finding his new lower status on the pecking order (behind Durant & Booker), but winning cures all. And for a few seasons, he should be a Company Man again.

Wizards Grade: C

The Wizards got the raw end of this deal, for sure. Along with Paul, they acquired SG Landry Shamet & some 2nd round picks; hardly the tools necessary for a proper rebuild. WAS will most likely be combing over clay for coal with those 2nd round picks. Landry Shamet is an average talent at best, by NBA standards. He’s a streaky shooter, he’s decent defensively, and he plays hard. He has good athleticism, but his basketball IQ & mental-game is lacking. We already discussed Paul at length, and I would be shocked to see WAS not dump Paul’s contract immediately.

Now, the other option is they keep Paul. CP3 is the master of the rebuild. He’s gone to more franchises & helped teams overreach in potential. He made a historically bad franchise in the LA Clippers a contender out west. He took the Houston Rockets (with the help of James Harden) to the WCF, elevated an overlooked & young Oklahoma City Thunder into the playoffs, and restored the Suns’ place atop the Western Conference, including a trip to the 2021 NBA Finals (his first).

So, the Wizards unload C Kristap Porzingis (another high-priced talent) & the contract of Beal (Year 2 of his massive 5yr/$251M, $46.7 for next season & only increasing by $3.5M each year), let SF Kyle Kuzma leave in free-agency, and start fresh with a proven leader of underwhelming talent.


Real talk, tho.

The Wizards will likely dump Paul & he will find himself closer to his family in Los Angeles. Most likely, he will reunite with the Clippers for one last ride; a team many think are one piece, one floor-general away from a chip. But don’t be shocked if buddy buddy LeBron James tries luring CP3 to the LA docks for a ride on his banana boat & a pitch to come to the dynastic Lakers organization.

Either way, Paul will be in LA by next season’s start.

Write that down.

As for the Suns, they have acquired a lot of talent who will be playing games they have not been accustomed to thus far in their NBA career. Deandre Ayton will have to stop fearing his shadow. Beal will have to become a third-option shooter. Booker will have to play PG. Durant will have to be second to Booker. 

And all of them will have to play defense.

Good luck with that, Franklin.

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