NBA Offseason: Chris Paul Traded to the Suns

The 2020 NBA offseason started with a big trade on Monday as Oklahoma City agreed in principle to trade All-Star and future Hall of Fame player point guard Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal will see the Suns trade multiple players including Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Abdel Nader will also be included in the deal from Oklahoma City to Phoenix.

The 35-year-old Paul played well in Oklahoma City as he led the Thunder to a playoff birth, was chosen as an All-Star and was named to the All-NBA Second Team. Paul finished the season averaging 17.6 PPG and 6.7 APG in 70 total games played.

Outside of his ability, Paul will also bring a large contract to Phoenix. Chris Paul still has two years and over $80 million still on the books. Nonetheless, Paul will reconnect with former coach Monty Williams and will be a key member of a team that already features two primary scorers in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

Oklahoma City moves further into a rebuild mode yet again after trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George in previous years. The Thunder also hold the keys to the future with over 15 first-round draft picks between the 2020 and 2026 NBA Drafts.

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What to look for in the remaining NBA Seeding games

NBA seeding games a success

Smooth sailing and no interruptions! The NBA restart has thus far been a success as it attempts to finish out the 2019-2020 season. Announced on August 5th, 2020, the NBA reported yet again, zero positive COVID-19 tests after the first month of locking down in the bubble in Orlando, FL. The NBA has now completed a little over half of their seeding games.

With 22 teams scheduled to play eight seeding games, we are a little over the halfway mark. The final stretch begins now.

Some teams are content like the Los Angeles Lakers who clinched the first seed in the Western Conference early last week. The Milwaukee Bucks who also officially clinched the Eastern Conference recently.

(and if you haven’t checked out the standings you probably should check out our standings. Updated with bubble records and around the clock for your pleasure!)

Other teams could be switching seeding places depending on how their remaining games play out. All teams in the east and west have clinched their playoff spot except the Memphis Grizzlies in the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Portland Trailblazers and Phoenix Suns are coming in hot behind the Grizzlies. Honorable mentions are the San Antonio Spurs who are a half-game back from the 9th seed but due to win percentage considered the 10th seed.

The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

The Phoenix Suns making the playoffs

Undefeated? That’s right STILL undefeated! Currently sitting at 6-0 the Suns have pulled themselves in contention of forcing a play-in tournament with the 8th seed. If the Memphis Grizzlies continue a downward spiral can the Suns take the 8th seed?

They are currently in the 10th behind Portland. Keep in mind the NBA will use win percentage to determine final seedings as not all teams will play the same amount of games after the final 8 seeding games.

The Suns remaining games are against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, and Dallas Mavericks. Should all three of these teams be content or locked into their seeds Phoenix might face rested line-ups against the mentioned teams. A plus for a Suns team trying to make a case for the playoffs.

Play-in tournament in the Western Conference

Of course, as most may have expected, the Washington Wizards have a worse record and win percentage than the Charlotte Hornets (who wasn’t even invited to the bubble by the way).

Indeed, the Wizards are definitely eliminated from playoff contention. Therefore, the Eastern Conference will not need a play-in tournament.

However, out west, the race for the 8th seed has gotten hot. Funny how we just mentioned the Suns right? At the beginning of the restart, the Grizzles held a 3.5 game lead over the 9th seed. Their goal? To win enough games to try and be five games or more ahead of the 9th seed.

Memphis started 0-4 in the restart and we’ll cut them some slack. After all, Jaren Jackson Jr was ruled out early last week for the remainder of the season due to a torn meniscus. A huge loss for the Grizzlies and even further disappointing that they have Portland and Phoenix hot on their trail to take over the 8th seed.

It took about a week but the Grizzlies won their first seeding game last Friday in a 121-92 victory against the Thunder. The question is can they win a couple more to remain in the 8th seed? Their remaining schedule sees Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee. Basically, the Eastern Conference’s top three teams.

By the looks of the east, these teams have most likely unofficially locked into their seeds. Will they be kind and rest their best against Memphis?

Will Damian Lillard be sending anyone home this year?

Beyond the games, there is still some drama in the bubble. In case you missed it, the NBA bubble caused some tensions to burst via social media. Damian Lillard had some words to share during his interview about the Clippers bench celebrating his two missed free throws during this past Saturday’s 122-117 loss.

“PG did the wave because he also was surprised [about the missed free throws] because he experienced being waved at last year,” Lillard said of his famous wave goodbye to Russell Westbrook and George after his walk-off game-winning 3-pointer that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the first round last year.

“Asking me about Patrick Beverley, who I sent him home before at the end of a game. Paul George is a guy sent home by me last year in the playoffs, so they know. The reason they reacting like that is because of what they expecting from me, which is a sign of respect, and it just shows what I have done at a high clip more times than not. I am not offended by it.

“If anything, it should just tell you how much it hurt them to go through what I put them through in those situations previously.”


Dame Time in jeopardy of going home before the playoffs

Besides social media jabs, the Trailblazers need every win they can get. With the loss to the Clippers on Saturday, they allowed the Suns to pull even closer to the 9th seed who are now only a half-game back behind Portland.

The Blazers will face the Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and Brooklyn Nets in their final three games which will be crucial to compete with win percentages and tie-breakers should Phoenix continue blazing up the bubble.

With Lillard’s history of sending others home, his chances of going home himself early are definitely high. The Western Conference 8th seed race will be the draw to watch out of the remaining seeding games.

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Early top performers in NBA restart

In case you missed it, there’s a bubble in Orlando broadcasting basketball games to the world! We’ve got 30 games in the books and an abundance of fun matchups, lockdown defense, and buzzer-beaters galore!

We’re only a little over a third of the way through the seeding games! Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, it’s a lot after four months of absolutely no sports whatsoever. Strap in, and let me catch you up on the top takeaways thus far.

The Brow leads as the Lakers clinch the Western Conference top spot

Typically, LeBron is the man leading the Lakers, but even with some uncertainty looming over him after an eye injury, this has been the Anthony Davis show and we are just fortunate enough to have (virtual) courtside seats to watch it during this restart. He is averaging 30 points and 8.7 rebounds a game, connecting on 43% of his three-point field goals (just ignore the 2-for-7 effort from the field in 35 minutes against the Raptors over the weekend).

The exclamation point – A three while getting fouled by Rudy Gobert with under a minute left in the 4th quarter against the Utah Jazz Monday night. Davis ended the night with 42 points, a big reason why the Lakers clinched the top seed in the West. He probably won’t remain the leading scorer or play 36 minutes a game throughout the rest of the seeding games to rest, but if he can carry this level of production into the playoffs – WATCH OUT WORLD!

The Phoenix Suns are undefeated

Yep, you read that right.

Of the 22 teams invited to the NBA bubble, the Phoenix Suns is not one expected to extend their stay beyond August.

But, a decisive win again the Washington Wizards for their first restart game may have not raised any eyebrows. However, a two-point victory that included a defense holding an offensive juggernaut like the Dallas Mavericks to just 19 percent from the three-point line cannot be overlooked.

If that wasn’t enough to get your attention, Devin Booker came up clutch again and connected on a game-winning field goal against the Los Angeles Clippers – a team expected to make the Western Conference Finals if not the Finals. Don’t look now, but the Phoenix Suns are now 3-0 and inching closer to a bid for the coveted 8th seed in the Western Conference.

The Toronto Raptors are for real, for real…

The Raptors opened their first restart game last Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember LeBronto? Probably a name to throw on the back-burner for a while.

The Raptors held the Lakers to 35 percent from the field and outrebounded an Anthony Davis-led front-court 51-40. As mentioned, Davis was held to 2-of-7 shooting from the field and only finish with 14 points after his 34-point night against the Clippers on opening night.

Fast forward to Monday’s afternoon game and the Raptors held off some heat from Miami. Toronto would lose a 17-point lead only to secure a 107-103 victory against Miami. Connecting on 50 percent from the three-point line and a big game from Fred VanVleet dropping 36 points on 8-of-16 shooting held off the Heat from closing the gap on the second seed in the east.

The Raptors still have Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics on their remaining seeding games in which they could further prove they’re serious about repeating as Eastern Conference Champions.

T.J. Warren is worth more than cash considerations

While it was up in the air that the Indiana Pacers might be without their best player in Victor Oladipo there was some soul searching for who got next. Warren dropped 53 points in the Pacers’ first game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Shooting 20-for-29 from the field (9-for-12 from the three-point line), Warren efficiently lit up the 76ers in a 127-121 win.

What if Warren’s 53-piece still hasn’t been beaten especially by someone named James Harden? (who dropped 49 points in his season restart debut by the way)

What if I told you that T.J. Warren is averaging 39.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and shooting 65 percent from the field (61 percent from three) in Indiana’s first three bubble games?

Ask Mark Zuckerberg to put a fact check on that one and like Mr. Warren says, in an interview prior to the season with The Athletic’s Shams Charania, he’s worth more than cash considerations.

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