The Washington Wizards plan to trade Chris Paul to Golden State for guard Jordan Poole after reaching an agreement to acquire Paul from the Phoenix Suns earlier this week, according to a person familiar with the deals who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The plan, which was first reported by ESPN on Thursday just hours before the N.B.A. draft, continues a chaotic off-season for Paul, a 12-time All-Star guard who has spent the past three seasons in Phoenix. Paul, 38, said he was caught off guard on Sunday when he learned that the Suns planned to trade him. The Wizards’ deal with the Suns is expected to send Bradley Beal, a three-time All-Star guard, to Phoenix, according to the person.
“Seriously, it is part of the business, and what you realize is that no one owes you anything,” Paul said of the Suns trading him, in an interview with The New York Times on Monday. “No matter how you are with them or what you do, you realize that in this business, nobody owes you anything, as it should be.”
In Golden State, Paul would team up with the sharpshooting guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, whom he has faced in the playoffs three times, most memorably in the 2018 Western Conference finals with the Houston Rockets. Golden State beat Houston in seven games that year, with Paul missing the final two games due to injury, then swept Cleveland in the N.B.A. finals. Paul hasn’t won a title, but he helped lead the Suns to the finals in 2021.
In recent years, Paul has scored less and missed time with injuries. In the 2022-23 season, he averaged a career-low 13.9 points per game and missed the Suns’ final four playoff games. But teaming up with Curry, one of the best point guards in N.B.A. history, may provide his best chance to win an elusive championship.
The move is risky for Golden State. Curry, 35, will have in Paul another historically talented guard to help get him easy shots, if Paul can approximate his All-Star form. But if Paul continues to decline, Curry will have to shoulder more of the offensive burden. Paul likely will also have to get used to not being his team’s primary ballhandler.
For Golden State, the trade is a rapid about-face on the 24-year-old Poole, whom the team once viewed as a promising bridge out of the Curry era. So much so that in October, Golden State rewarded Poole with a four-year contract extension worth up to $140 million.
Poole, who just finished his fourth season, helped Golden State win a championship in 2022. While he has shown potential as an elite scorer, he had a penchant for erratic play and sloppy turnovers. His season got off to a rocky start: During a preseason practice, Golden State forward Draymond Green punched Poole in the face, video of which was leaked to TMZ, causing a headache for a franchise known for stability. The friction between Green and Poole lingered over the season.
Poole is the second key young player Golden State has moved on from in the past several months. In February, the Warriors traded center James Wiseman, 22, to the Detroit Pistons. They had drafted him No. 2 overall in 2020 amid much hype. The young talents they have left, like Jonathan Kuminga, 20, and Moses Moody, 21, who were both first-round draft picks in 2021, have yet to play well consistently, though they have shown flashes of promise.
Poole, whom Golden State drafted late in the first round in 2019, had been the best of the team’s recent picks. Now he is poised to join a Wizards team that appears to be commencing a full-scale rebuild.