The Thunder could trade Chris Paul to the Suns.
The optimal way for Phoenix to acquire Paul is using its 2020 cap space then sending out at least $33,007,051 of outgoing salary in a Paul trade. Two prime candidates for the Suns to deal:
Ricky Rubio ($17,000,000 salary next season)
Kelly Oubre ($14,375,000 salary next season)
Rubio wouldn’t have much of a role in Phoenix with Paul supplanting him at point guard. Oubre appears expendable after Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson stepped up at forward in the bubble, building chemistry with cornerstones Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
The Suns would still have to add a little more salary. But it shouldn’t be too difficult to include Ty Jerome, Cheick Diallo, Elie Okobo or Cameron Payne in the deal.
Still, this isn’t just about making salaries match. Phoenix must also compensate Oklahoma City. Paul is still pretty darned good.
I don’t think this is breaking news to the Suns. This update isn’t about the trade falling apart. It’s about us learning more how the deal could look.
Rubio (two years, $34.8 million remaining) is the impediment. At 30, he doesn’t fit into the Thunder’s rebuild. But maybe they could flip him to another team (Clippers?). Even if not a multiple-team trade now, Oklahoma City just showed a willingness to take an ill-fitting player and help boost his value. It worked with Paul. It could work with Rubio on a smaller scale. Rubio would be less likely to disrupt tanking.
Oubre is entering the final year of his contract. If the Thunder don’t particularly like him, they could definitely flip him for value (Warriors?).
But that might not be enough return for Oklahoma City.
If not the No. 10 pick this year, Phoenix also owns all its future first-round picks. There’s definitely still room for a deal between the Suns and Thunder.
Just watch for Rubio and Oubre getting re-routed elsewhere.