The NBA transfer market kicked off on Monday with Chris Paul leaving for the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Spaniard Ricky Rubio and other players and reports that James Harden (Rockets) wants to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s Nets.
In the first major trade of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder sent veteran Chris Paul and Egyptian Abdel Nader to Phoenix in exchange for Rubio, scoring forward Kelly Oubre Jr., youngsters Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque and a first round of the 2022 draft, the Suns confirmed on their website.
“We are pleased to welcome Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix,” Suns general manager James Jones said. “Chris’s leadership and his competitive approach to the game will have an incalculable impact on our team.”
Paul, 35, has been a 10-time All-Star pick. In his only season with the Thunder, who finished in an unexpected fifth place in the Western Conference, he revalued his career until he was selected in the second best quintet in the NBA, averaging 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists. per game.
In Phoenix they hope that the pair formed by Paul and his young All-Star guard Devin Booker (26.6 points on average) will take them back to the playoffs after ten years of absence.
For his part, Ricky Rubio, 30, will join the Thunder, a team in the middle of rebuilding, after a single season in Phoenix in which he averaged 13 points and 8.8 assists.
For the point guard, winner and Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the last World Cup in China 2019 with Spain, the Thunder will be his fourth team in the NBA, after also six years in the Minnesota Timberwolves and two in the Utah Jazz.
Starting the countdown to the season opener on December 22, the NBA got underway on Monday with a hectic week that will also feature the draft ceremony on Wednesday and the start of free agency (free player market) on Friday.
– Harden, ready to join Brooklyn –
The team garnering the most attention is the Houston Rockets, whose superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, both MVP winners and NBA leading scorers in the past four seasons, could be on the ramp.
After eight seasons trying in vain to reach the Finals with the Rockets, Harden has decided to go to another team with a better chance of winning the title and has the Brooklyn Nets as his first desired destination, reputed ESPN journalist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday. .
Harden, who last season won his third consecutive title of best scorer in the NBA (34.2 points on average), would have had conversations in recent weeks with Kevin Durant, his former teammate in the Thunder, and Kyrie Irving to form a fearsome ‘Big Three’ in Brooklyn.
With two seasons still under contract in Houston, Harden reportedly recently turned down an offer to extend that commitment for two seasons at a rate of $ 50 million a year, an NBA record, Wojnarowski reported.
At the moment, both franchises have maintained contact but have not initiated any “meaningful dialogue” as the Rockets do not believe that the Nets can pay the price, either in players or draft rounds, that they would demand for Harden, Wojnarowski said.
Houston has probed possible offers for Westbrook, for whom the Rockets sent Chris Paul and first two rounds of the draft to Oklahoma City in 2019.
Since their defeat in the second round of the last playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1), later champions, the Rockets have registered the resignations of Mike D’Antoni, their coach, and Daryl Morey, their general manager during the last 13 years.
The other important transfer so far, reported Sunday by ESPN and still without official confirmation, is that of German point guard Dennis Schröder, of the Thunder, to the Lakers in exchange for veteran guard Danny Green and the 28th pick in the draft of the Wednesday.
In terms of one-season renewal options for some players, Lakers star Anthony Davis decided to give up his additional year for $ 28.7 million to negotiate a new, longer-term contract with the reigning champions.
gbv / ma