Chris Paul brushes off Suns reunion ahead of Warriors debut

Chris Paul brushes off  Suns reunion ahead of Warriors debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Steph Curry turned to Chris Paul on Monday and asked him the same old question every NBA veteran has to answer the day before the regular-season opener: Do you still get as nervous and excited as you did for your first opener as a rookie?

The answer for the 38-year-old, who is entering his 19th season and first as a Warrior, was a resounding yes.

“Steph asked me that today during practice when I was warming up,” Paul said Monday at Chase Center. “I told him, you know, the minute you don’t get that, it’s time to be done. We talked about that for a little while. Definitely excited and ready to go.”

Paul has laced up his sneakers on opening night for nearly two decades now. This time will be different, though.

Yes, he suited up in four of the Warriors’ five preseason games but Tuesday night will be his first home introduction in front of Dub Nation for a regular-season game. It also will be his first time playing against the Phoenix Suns, his former team who traded him to the Washington Wizards over the offseason to bring Bradley Beal to the desert, which opened the door for the Warriors to then trade Jordan Poole and bring the future Hall of Fame point guard to the Bay Area.

The Warriors are the sixth franchise Paul has played for in his storied career after trips with the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and most recently the Suns. Paul had to wait all the way until the 42nd game of the 2011-12 season before playing the Hornets for the first time on the Clippers. He didn’t face the Clippers for the first time as a Rocket until the 25th game of the 2017-18 season, saw the Rockets in the fourth game of the 2019-20 season in his one-year stop for the Thunder and then played the Thunder the 16th game he wore a Suns jersey.

Paul didn’t put too much thought or value into facing a former team the first time in the past, and he doesn’t plan to do so this time either.

Teammates Chris Paul and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors talk with each other during a break in the action against the San Antonio Spurs...

“I don’t really think too much about it,” Paul said. “I sort of knew as soon as the trade happened. I’ve been through this. You’re going to play them four times anyways.”

For what it’s worth, Paul is 0-4 in previous instances of playing a former team the first time, but he did average 20.5 points and 6.3 assists in said games.

There will be daps, hugs, handshakes and laughs between Paul and his former teammates when they see each other on the Chase Center floor prior to tipoff and after the game. He and star shooting guard Devin Booker formed a lifelong friendship in Paul’s three seasons in Phoenix. The Suns trading for Paul in November of 2020 jump-started the franchise to being perennial contenders again. But once it’s game time, Paul will play the same way he has the previous 18 seasons, the same way he did when he first played against New Orleans, Los Angeles, Houston and OKC.

“I play the game the same way every time I play,” Paul said. “I’m an emotional guy when I play, when I hoop, but not because of the situation. I think I play emotional just because of who I am.

“Opening night, it’s a new team, I know what I bring to the table and that’s an edge every time I play. Been like that for a long time, and I don’t see it changing.”

Two teams that garnered countless headlines and are full of superstars will have the spotlight on them come Tuesday night. Everyone wants to see how Paul will fit on the Warriors, as well as if Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal can share one ball together on the Suns.

Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns smiles during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 15, 2021 at Target Center in Minneapolis,...

For how much hype the game will receive, the Warriors won’t be at full strength. Draymond Green practiced Monday and participated in the team’s controlled scrimmage, but he will not play against the Suns as he continues to recover from a sprained right ankle. Even with Green’s return, Kerr knows the product the Warriors will put on the floor the first few games won’t look anything like the team he’ll be coaching a month from now and as the season progresses.

“I have a clear vision of our team this year and it will not be on display tomorrow night,” Kerr said, “because we’re not where we need to be. But I think the clarity that we have as a coaching staff, organizationally, we can see where this team is going. So that’s a great sign. You get bumps in the road. Hopefully we don’t have too many of them, but one of them came with Draymond’s injury right before camp. So we’ll have to ease in a little bit.

“We’ve put in a ton of stuff early on both ends of the floor. We’ve got to whittle that down, our players have to get comfortable. It’s a long way of saying we’re going to be way better in a month or two, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get off to a good start, play a great game tomorrow, play well over the next couple of weeks as we’re fitting Draymond back in.”