In a matter of a few days, the Oklahoma City Thunder put themselves into rebuilding mode.
First, the team traded Paul George to the Clippers per his request, then Jerami Grant to the Nuggets. Finally, OKC dealt the face of their franchise, Russell Westbrook, to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul and draft picks.
Houston decided to make the move after failing to reach the NBA Finals yet again, despite another great regular season. Tension between Paul and James Harden was reported, potentially helping fuel Paul’s exit.
OKC will now almost certainly look to trade Paul, though new Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could learn from him.
Moving him could be a challenge, however. Paul, 34, is slated to make nearly $80 million over the next two seasons, with a $44 million player option in 2021. A buyout is unlikely, as Paul would be leaving a ton of money on the table.
While heading into decline, Paul is still a great point guard. Last season, Paul battled injuries and ended up averaging 15.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds.
Not every team has a need at the point guard position, or assets to make a deal happen. Here are teams that could make a trade for the nine-time All-Star.
The Heat are reportedly interested in another piece to pair with Jimmy Butler, including Paul. The two in a backcourt together could be a major clash of hard-headed personalities, but would also make Miami far more relevant.
Goran Dragic’s expiring deal along with Justice Winslow and perhaps draft picks would make the deal work financially. OKC would get a solid young talent in Winslow, along with cap relief next summer, and additional picks to add to their collection.
If the Timberwolves wanted to make a move to potentially level-up in the Western Conference, they could try and acquire Chris Paul. He and Karl Anthony-Towns would be a solid pick-and-roll combo, but the team would be going all in on KAT’s development long term.
Minnesota would give up Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague’s expiring deal, Keita Bates-Diop and potential a pick for Paul. OKC may be hesitant to receive Wiggins on his current deal, but he is a solid scorer and could potentially take another step in a new environment.
Chris Paul alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis could make the Mavericks contenders in the West. While Doncic and Porzingis are regarded as the team’s future, Paul would make the team better overnight.
Dallas could send Courtney Lee’s expiring deal, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Jalen Brunson to the Thunder, perhaps in addition to a pick. OKC would get solid young guards as well as cap relief in the near future, which could be used for an ascending star in 2020 free agency.
Featured image credited to Getty Images.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.