'I've seen crazier': Chris Paul on being part of Phoenix Suns trade offer to Brooklyn Nets for Kyrie Irving
BROOKLYN – Chris Paul was part of a package the Phoenix Suns offered to the Brooklyn Nets for Kyrie Irving, sources confirm to The Republic.
"It's a business, it's a business," Paul said after Monday's practice. "I've seen crazier. The way I found out I was traded from Houston. You just show up to work and be a pro day in and day out. Nobody's exempt from being traded. Find out just like everybody else."
Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report tweeted the news Sunday.
"Just keep going to work," Paul said. "Also understanding teams are always going to do what's best for them. That's why players have to do the same. Show up, got a job to do and it is what it is."
The Nets ended up trading Irving and Markieff Morris to Dallas for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian-Finney Smith, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick and two future second-round picks, the team announced Monday.
The Suns (29-26) play the Nets (32-20) on Tuesday at Barclays Center on TNT.
"It's the NBA, man," Suns All-Star Devin Booker said. "It's that time of the year you're going to hear all types of things. It's the business."
A candid Suns coach Monty Williams said it bothered him to see Paul's name out there.
"It kind of bothered me to be honest," Williams said. "A lot of times, a guy's name is out there and it's just a lot of people throwing stuff out there maybe to get their deal done. And so they use us. The bottom line is, for whatever reason, players have wanted to come to play in Phoenix. The city. Playing with our players, but I don't think it's fair when guys have their names thrown out there like that. Kind of bothered me 'cause Chris, his name should never be thrown out there in that way."
Williams coached Paul in New Orleans before the two reunited in Phoenix.
"Certainly wasn't anything that, based on my conversations with (Suns GM James Jones), that we did, and so when I heard about it, I was like, this is part of the business, we understand it, but just from my perspective, it kind of bothered me," Williams added.
Irving requested a trade to happen before Thursday’s trade deadline as the two sides were unable to agree on an extension for the All-Star guard. He reportedly was prepared to sit out the rest of the season.
The Suns also included Jae Crowder and unspecified picks in the deal for Irving, Haynes tweeted. The Suns reportedly offered a first rounder.
The Suns have been trying to trade Crowder since training camp. He hasn’t played one game for the team this season. The two sides "mutually agreed" he wouldn't attend training camp.
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With the NBA expected to approve billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia as new Suns team owner before the trade deadline, Phoenix looked to acquire Irving, who has had his share of off-court drama, but he’s one of the game’s best players.
The Suns pursued Nets All-Star Kevin Durant last offseason, but Durant wound up staying in Brooklyn as he's under a four-year extension for $194 million.
Durant demanded a trade heading into free agency with Phoenix atop his wish list. If Brooklyn makes Durant available after moving Irving to start a complete rebuild, the Suns will likely look into pursuing him again based on what happened last summer.
Unlike Durant, Irving is in the final year of his four-year, $136-million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Durant's extension ends after the 2025-26 season.
Averaging 27.1 points this season, Irving had a recent six-game stretch in which he scored at least 30 in every game.
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The run began with a 30-point outing at Phoenix as Irving scored 21 of his 30 in the fourth quarter on 8-of-11 shooting as the Nets fell short, 117-112, on Jan. 19.
Pairing Irving, 30, with All-Star Devin Booker, 26, would’ve given the Suns arguably the best backcourt in the league and greatly changed the dynamic of the team. However, the Suns are 8-2 in their last 10 games and look to have Booker return as early as Tuesday against the Nets.
Booker has missed 21 straight games with a left groin strain. Paul was out seven games during this stretch with a sore right hip after sitting 14 games with a sore right heel earlier this season.
Paul is averaging a career-low 13.8 points on 43.5% shooting and 8.6 assists in 34 games. Playing more off the ball, Paul shot 9-of-36 from 3 in his first 11 games this season.
The 37-year-old eventually found the range, connecting on 43.9% of his 3s in 13 games in December and 48.7% of his 3s in eight games in January, but he’s gone 1-of-11 from deep in his last three games.
Read more: 5 takeaways from Phoenix Suns' win over Detroit Pistons
Paul didn’t make a shot from the field in Saturday’s 116-100 win at Detroit. Going 0-of-7 from the field, Paul missed all three of his 3-point shots, but did post a game-high 14 assists.
He had just three points in last Wednesday’s 32-point loss to Atlanta but posted 15 in Friday’s win at NBA-leader Boston to open a five-game road trip.
Paul and Crowder came to Phoenix before the 2020-21 season. The Suns traded Kelly Oubre Jr., Ty Jerome, Ricky Rubio and a 2022 first-round pick for Paul and Abdel Nader and signed Crowder as a free agent.
It was the fourth time Paul had been traded in a career that began as the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft.
Playing for his fifth NBA team, Paul provided to be the catalyst for Phoenix reaching the 2021 NBA Finals. Averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 assists and playing in 70 of Phoenix’s 72 games, Paul reached his first finals series with the Suns.
Read more: Recovering Booker dunks in 'normal' pregame routine Saturday
The NBA had a shortened 72-game season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Phoenix lost to Milwaukee in six games after taking a 2-0 series lead.
The Suns signed Paul to a four-year, $120-million deal the following 2021 offseason.
The veteran point guard averaged 14.7 points and led the league in assists last season at 10.8 a game in 65 games as the Suns posted the NBA’s best record with a franchise-best 64-18 season.
With a history of injuries, Paul missed 15 games in the 2021-22 regular season with a fractured right hand. The Suns fell to Dallas in seven games of the Western Conference semifinals.
Chosen for the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team, Paul made All-NBA third team in his first two seasons.
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During this season, Paul gave Crowder a shout-out when asked after a Jan. 26 loss to Dallas how much the team misses Crowder.
“Jae, 9-9, I miss him,” Paul said. “I miss him. Ain’t no secret about it. That’s one of our brothers. I came here with Jae. Hope he good 9-9, you out there, hope you good, but it’s a business, it’s the league. It is what it is.”
Crowder played a key role in Phoenix’s recent success. Averaging 9.7 points in his previous two seasons in Phoenix, Crowder started all 80 games he played for the Suns last season.
The Suns granted Milwaukee permission to speak with Crowder, who has recently met with the Bucks, sources informed The Republic.
'I miss him': Chris Paul gives shout-out to Phoenix Suns teammate Jae Crowder
Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at email@example.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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