Chris Paul believes Hall of Famer and former NBA executive Isiah Thomas played a role in the Wizards’ unofficial blockbuster trade with the Suns. Paul repeatedly told Sopan Deb of the New York Times that Suns owner Mat Ishbia and Thomas “wanted to go in a different direction.”
Thomas is good friends with Ishbia but doesn’t have an official role with Phoenix.
Paul said he learned of the trade via a text from his 14-year-old son while he was flying to New York, where he’s embarking on a promotional tour for his new book. Even though the Suns had been mulling their options regarding Paul and his partially guaranteed contract, the trade “surprised” him.
“I really haven’t had enough time to process it yet. Like seriously, because these things that happen affect more than just me,” said Paul, who had been in contact with Suns president of basketball operations James Jones the previous day.
Paul added, “Like I said, Mat and Isiah, they want to go in a different direction. But my time there has been amazing.”
Paul’s comments suggest that not only did Ishbia push to acquire Beal but that Thomas has a major influence on his thinking, with his voice counting more than anyone in the front office.
In early February, a report surfaced that Ishbia planned to hire Thomas for a prominent role in the front office. Thomas is on the board of directors of United Wholesale Mortgage, Ishbia’s company. However, the Suns soon shot down the rumor that Thomas would have an official role with the Suns.
Thomas hasn’t had an official front office position in the NBA since he was the Knicks’ president of basketball operations from 2003-08.