10 years ago, Chris Paul and Willie Green were backcourt partners in New Orleans. Their head coach was Monty Williams.
A decade later, the trio is reunited in Phoenix, looking to help the new look Suns try and break a long playoff drought. Williams is still leading the team on the bench, but instead of being on the floor with Paul, Green is now a right hand man for Williams as an assistant coach.
They’ve all come a long way since Paul was just a 25-year-old coming into his own as one of the league’s premier point guards.
“That was my backcourt mate in New Orleans and with the Clippers,” said Paul of being reunited with Green. “He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with.”
The group will look to make a lasting impact in the Valley. Paul has been adjusting to his new organization, working with Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and the rest of the Suns as they gear up for a Dec. 23 opener against the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul has been impressed with what he’s been surrounded with. He can see how the team had its run in the NBA bubble last season.
“I’m getting a chance to see first hand why they were so good in the bubble, and why they made the jump from the season to the bubble,” Paul said. “That’s what’s been really cool to see, is to see Cameron Johnson, and know Jevon Carter, and to see how many hungry guys we got…To see what type of guys they are in the locker room already, it’s going to be big for our team.”
Other than basketball, Paul also can share his vast knowledge outside of the game with many of the young core in the Suns locker room.
As a member of the players organization, Paul has been instrumental in many different projects, working alongside the league office to make beneficial changes for players and coaches.
He played a fundamental role in developing the restart of the NBA season with the bubble, as well as centering efforts on issues of racial injustice and police brutality over the summer in Orlando.
“The reason I got involved in my third year was to understand the business of the game. I’ve had an opportunity to be in a number of negotiations and I’ve learned a lot,” Paul said. “When you’re a kid in your backyard trying to be Michael Jordan, you aren’t thinking about CBA negotiations. You’re thinking about playing basketball. But as you get older, you realize that it’s a business and you take care of your family and everything like that. It’s been an unbelievable learning process for me and I continue to soak up as much as I can.”
One of the things that many people talked about when Paul first got traded to Phoenix was how his veteran play and leadership could help push along this young group of Suns and get them over the hump.
Wins will be the ultimate indicator of whether the CP3 to Phoenix trade paid off, but one thing is certain. Paul has a presence, and it’s been seen everyday during practice thus far.
“The camaraderie that we’ve already built through team group texts…our team seems like it’s been together for a while just because we have guys that want to compete, work hard, and you can tell everyone enjoys being in the gym,” Paul said. “…You should never feel like you’re going to work because it’s basketball. You should be excited to come to the gym and be around the guys, and if you’re doing that, you know you’re off to a really good start.”