Chris Paul won’t be on the Oklahoma City Thunder for long, and he could be headed for one of these five teams.
On Thursday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, two first-round picks (2024, 2026) and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. The deal will reunite Westbrook with James Harden, and attention will now turn to Paul.
Paul is coming off the worst season of his career, as he averaged a career-low 15.6 points per game while shooting a career-worst 41.9 percent from the floor. He also missed 24 games for the second straight season, and he hasn’t played more than 74 regular season games since 2014-15 with the Clippers.
There’s also the small matter of Paul’s contract. He is owed just over $124 million over the next three seasons, including a $44.2 million player option for that final year in 2021-22 when he’ll turn 37. His age and contract do not fit with Oklahoma City’s new plan, so Paul will not be around long.
The list of possible destinations for Paul is automatically limited, due to the aforementioned age and contract factors as well as it now being at a fairly late point in offseason movement.
That said, these five teams could find a way to bring Paul aboard.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers can’t make a straight up trade for Paul right now, but if Oklahoma City buys him out they do have some space under the luxury tax ($12.95 million, via Spotrac).
ESPN’s Bobby Marks considers a buyout unlikely though, since the Thunder could attach some of the draft pick capital they’ve added over the last few weeks to get a team to take on Paul’s contract.
If LeBron James wants to play with Paul as both of their careers wind down, and the Thunder will play along by simply orchestrating a buyout if that’s what Paul prefers, it could happen. Never say never.