Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder trying to leverage Chris Paul as an actual asset

As teams circle toward them on Chris Paul, the Oklahoma City Thunder are apparently hoping patience will be a prosperous virtue.

Paul George’s push to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers and team up with Kawhi Leonard put the Oklahoma City Thunder in a tough position. A subsequent deal sending Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, for Chris Paul and two more first-round picks to add to their pile of future assets, confirmed a shift toward rebuild mode.

It was assumed the Thunder would quickly flip Paul to a team with eyes on playoff contention, as well as the contracts to put in a deal to match Paul’s $124 million over the next three seasons. But the only prominent reported trade talks came with the Miami Heat, with some issues involving Paul declining his $44.2 million player option for 2021-22 or the Heat getting back picks that were once theirs from the Thunder.

So it’s the current expectation that Paul will start the season with the Thunder. An in-season deal could surely happen, particularly once Dec. 15 comes and players who were signed this offseason can be moved.

But according to ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst during an appearance on The Jump Monday, rival executives aren’t quite buying the idea Oklahoma City won’t move Paul if a legit opportunity comes soon.

“Here’s what executives expect to happen: they expect the Thunder to put out a message that we’re not looking to trade Chris Paul…We want him to work with our young guys. Because they don’t want anybody to think they’re panic-trying to trade him, and they want to hope that somebody has something happen where they need Chris Paul.”

Other teams seem to want the Thunder to attach a first-round pick to Paul, as incentive to take on the money he’s due over the next three years. Alongside Windhorst’s comments, Royce Young, who covers the Thunder for ESPN, said he believes the team would hold onto CP3 rather than give up a draft pick.

Looking beyond his name, Paul is clearly a shell of what he was when he was one of the NBA’s best point guards. He missed 24 regular season games for the second straight year last year, as he also set career-lows in points per game (15.6) and shooting percentage (41.9 percent). He also has not played more than 74 games in four straight seasons, and at 34 years old he isn’t going to get more durable as his salary gets bigger.

Next: 5 potential eventual destinations for Chris Paul

Going into the coming season, the Thunder aren’t wrong to see potential value in Paul as a veteran presence. But trying to greatly leverage a depreciating asset feels foolish. While he shouldn’t take a low-ball offer, general manager Sam Presti has to know Paul is ultimately better off elsewhere. If that means attaching one of what is now a bushel of first-round picks, so be it.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

NBA at 75: When the Denver Nuggets shocked the world
Jimmy Butler single-handedly outscored the Celtics in third quarter of Game 1
Charles Barkley taunts Warriors fans before Western Conference Finals (Video)
5 offseason moves the Philadelphia 76ers have to make
2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Who gets the star big men at the top?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.