Suns Rumors: Harden, Paul, Ayton, Vogel

With Chris Paul‘s future in Phoenix up in the air, the Suns may be in the market for a point guard this summer. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, there have whispers around the NBA in recent weeks about the possibility of the team making a run at one of the top free agents on this year’s market.

“I want you to keep your eye on James Harden,” Shelburne said during an ESPN LA Radio appearance (hat tip to HoopsHype). “I don’t want to report anything, but that was in the wind for the past month or so. Everybody thinks it’s Philly or Houston (for Harden), but I don’t know, there have been discussions in the wind.”

While the latest reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic indicates that Harden’s decision may come down to the Sixers or Rockets, Shelburne isn’t the only reporter linking the former MVP to Phoenix. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer agrees that the Suns will be “trying to do something big” this offseason, suggesting during an appearance on FanDuel TV (Twitter video link) that Harden and Kyrie Irving may both be on the club’s radar.

As for Paul, O’Connor hears from sources that the Clippers, Lakers, and Spurs would be the teams to monitor as potential destinations for the veteran point guard if he’s waived. Although the Sixers aren’t one of the teams mentioned by O’Connor’s sources, he views Philadelphia as a possible fit for Paul too, and wonders if there’s a scenario where the Suns and 76ers essentially swap point guards.

Of course, it’s worth reiterating that Paul hasn’t been waived yet, and even if he is, he could still return to Phoenix as long as the Suns don’t stretch his remaining guaranteed money across multiple seasons. NBA analyst Isiah Thomas, who is close with Suns owner Mat Ishbia, said this week during a TV appearance not to “close the door” on the possibility of CP3 remaining in Phoenix.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • In a podcast with ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), Zach Lowe said he believes the Suns’ hiring of Frank Vogel as head coach increases the odds of Deandre Ayton remaining with the team by “a non-trivial amount.” Lowe adds that he has heard Ishbia is a fan of Ayton. “I think part of the reason why Frank Vogel got the job was because when he came in he had an idea of what to do with Deandre Ayton,” Windhorst said. “It does not mean it’s going to work. They obviously, as an organization, have a complicated relationship there, they did not want to pay him the max. But for the last year, he was in an adversarial relationship with his coach.”
  • For his part, Vogel told reporters this week that he’s looking forward to working with the former No. 1 overall pick, as Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports relays (via Twitter). “There’s still areas that he can grow offensively, but I’m intent on really connecting with him and restoring him to an All-Star level player,” Vogel said of Ayton.
  • Speaking to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Suns general manager James Jones outlined his vision for what he wants the 2023/24 Suns to look like. “A team that shoots it, off-ball movement,” Jones said. “A team that can rebound well and put pressure on the rim. I know that seems very generic, but those are the areas of the game that if you’re effective in those areas, you give yourself a chance really good chance at winning with just good players. If you can do that with great players like we have… you increase your odds and that’s all you want to do. You want to tilt the odds in your favor.”
  • Vogel has the support of Suns stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant and has spoken to both of them since being hired by the team, Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic. Vogel said he’s looking forward to seeing what Booker and Durant will bring defensively in addition to their elite play on offense. “I really love how Kevin and Devin compete on the defensive end,” he said. “KD even hit me when we were talking, he said, ‘I can’t wait to guard in your system.’ He wants to get after it on both sides of the ball and feels like that’s something that really gets him going on the other end and I love that.”
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