According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.
More Rumors in this Storyline
For Paul to join forces with James for the first time in their careers, it would likely take a sign-and-trade with the Suns. The most the over-the-cap Lakers can offer Paul without a sign-and-trade is a $9.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception. The attraction of chasing his first championship with James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers could be an appealing option for Paul to ponder. Keep in mind that Paul, a former LA Clippers star, still lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids.
Chris Paul could become a free agent this offseason if he declines his 21-22 player option with the Phoenix Suns. Paul could also do an extension beyond the 21-22 season. “It certainly seems to me it’s hard to see him go somewhere else,” said Adrian Wojnarowski. “He wanted to be there. He had to convince Phoenix a little bit that they were ready for him.”
Ian Begley: Funny line from Tom Thibodeau, who was asked about whether or not Chris Paul & NYK had mutual interest in a trade last offseason: “Well, I don’t think (Paul) liked the team president.” Thibodeau, of course, was joking about Paul being represented by Leon Rose when Rose was at CAA
The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has completed a four-team trade with the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pelicans have acquired Steven Adams (via Oklahoma City) and Eric Bledsoe (via Milwaukee), as well as two future first round draft picks from Milwaukee and the right two swap two additional first round picks with the Bucks. In exchange, Milwaukee has acquired Jrue Holiday and the draft rights to Sam Merrill, the 60th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft (via New Orleans); Denver has acquired the draft rights to R.J. Hampton, the 24th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft (via Milwaukee); and Oklahoma City has acquired a future first round draft pick (via Denver), George Hill (via Milwaukee), Zylan Cheatham, Josh Gray, Darius Miller and Kenrich Williams (via New Orleans) as well as two second round draft picks from the Pelicans (2023 via Washington, 2024 via Charlotte).
The Phoenix Suns today acquired point guard Chris Paul and forward Abdel Nader from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a protected 2022 first-round pick.
“We are excited to welcome Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix,” said General Manager James Jones. “Chris’ leadership and competitive approach to the game will have an immeasurable impact on our team. Abdel possesses all the traits on and off the court that will complement our culture.”
“We want to thank Chris for the contributions he has made to the Thunder and the Oklahoma City community both this season and during his initial tenure in 2005-06 with the Hornets,” said Presti. “Chris has been the consummate leader and has left a tremendous legacy in a short period of time. We wish him and Abdel and their families only the best moving forward. We also look forward to welcoming Ricky, Kelly, Ty and Jalen to Oklahoma City and are excited for them to join the Thunder program.”
Chris Mannix: Bucks never engaged on Chris Paul, per source. Thunder racking up draft capital as they prepare to rebuild.
The Jump: “Monty Williams in Phoenix played a role in Chris Paul going to Phoenix” – @Zach Lowe #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #RisePHX
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Thunder worked with Chris Paul’s CAA reps — Steve Heumann and Ty Sullivan — to get CP3 to a preferred destination. Sam Presti has a history of partnering with star players on trades, including Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Taylor Rooks: I’ve had a couple conversations with Chris Paul about how much he loves Monty Williams as a human. One of the most adored coaches in the league. Going to be exciting to watch these two team up again.
Bobby Marks: One direction that Phoenix can go is to hold off on the trade until the moratorium is lifted on 11/22. That would allow them to use cap space first (up to $18M) and circle back acting like a team over the cap.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The deal sends Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to the Suns for Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Phoenix Suns are finalizing a deal to acquire Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star guard Chris Paul, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: OKC has traded Chris Paul to Phoenix for Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and draft compensation, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
If the Knicks acquire Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook in a trade, several teams expect them to also pursue veterans in free agency that can help them compete in 2020-21. As we’ve reported, some MSG people are hesitant to give up assets in a Westbrook or Paul deal because they want to have enough trade capital to deal for another top player – if/when one becomes available via trade. But if they find a Westbrook/Paul trade that suits them, it’s fair to assume that Julius Randle is involved to match salaries. The Knicks could also absorb the Westbrook or Paul contracts into cap space
If Russell Westbrook is on the discount rack, Knicks president Leon Rose is all in, according to NBA sources. With Chris Paul’s trade situation up in the air, Rose still has some interest in seeing if he can pry Westbrook from Houston, if he’s on sale, but it would seem like a long shot.
The Knicks feel they have a lot of leverage and aren’t trying to give up any key future pawns, according to sources. Their potential interest could stem from using it as a scare tactic with OKC in any Paul talks.
Scotto: If Chris Paul falls through, Fred VanVleet is a guy Phoenix has interest in depending on how things shake out on the trade market.
Paul also was asked about reports of possible trades involving him, but said little that would provide insight on where he may play next season — or if he expects to be traded. He’s owed about $41 million for this coming season and holds a $44 million player option for next season. “Man, I’m 35 years old and I still get a chance to play basketball every day and say that’s my way of life,” Paul said. “That is crazy in itself so regardless what happens, I’ll be ready.”
Jimmy Fallon: Now, when you hear these (trade) rumors, what goes through your mind? Chris Paul: Man, I’m going into year 16, right? So I’ve heard about every rumor that you could possibly hear. So you learn to control what you can control. I’m training getting ready for the season. If something happens, it will. If not, you know, I love being in Oklahoma with our team. We actually just got a new coach yesterday. So, you know, the league is always constantly changing.
The Suns are hoping to use this pick to trade for Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul, according to league sources.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on the Wednesday edition of First Take, Paul never wanted to join the Lakers because it would feel like empty ring chasing. As Smith said, the Lakers would “being doing something for him, he wouldn’t do anything for them,” which turned Paul off on the idea of joining the Lake Show. The reason he doesn’t want to go to the Lakers is they’re already established, already accomplished. There’s really nothing for him to do for them, it’s only what they can do for him and that’s ring chasing, not the ring chasing Chris Paul wants to do. That’s stacking the deck.
What’s more is that Clippers’ star Kawhi Leonard has reportedly reached out to Paul and is recruiting him to join his former team. Via the Ryen Russillo podcast, h/t @LAClippersFilm: “The Clippers definitely interested in Chris Paul,” says Russillo. “The math doesn’t really make any sense and Paul has basically told any of the teams that are interested in trading for him, ‘hey, I don’t want you trading your player for me. I want to just come and join you,’ but that’s really hard when you’re making over $40 million a year and another year for $40 million plus for next year. So Paul’s not taking any kind of buyout for Oklahoma City to then try and make up the money somewhere else because I don’t know that the buyout would make a ton of sense for anybody involved, even if the buyout were really high and then Paul went ahead and made extra money.
“Here’s something that did surprise me because it just feels like Kawhi is this distant, mythological creature that doesn’t talk with anybody. Apparently, Kawhi reached out to Chris Paul immediately and was like, ‘hey, you should come here.’ So that part is real, the pursuit is real, the interest and the math on it from Paul’s standpoint doesn’t seem to be all that realistic.”
But there is a concern about the amount of assets New York would have to surrender to trade for Paul. Some MSG people are wary of giving up too many assets in a Paul deal because they want to ensure that New York has enough capital in place for a future trade for another high-profile player, SNY sources say.
The Knicks have shown interest, too, but reportedly Oklahoma City’s asking price has been too high. The Post has reported the Thunder like one of the Knicks’ prospects, Kevin Knox. Sources have told The Post that Paul prefers to play for a winning organization but still considers New York an attractive destination.
Dave King: Here’s @WindhorstESPN on @foxsports910 The Drive with @radiojody on a potential @CP3 trade to @Suns : “I think it’s over 50-50”…..”I think there’s momentum towards it.” “I think Chris Paul is interested in being a Phoenix Sun…..and that is not a minor statement.”
Talks have been ongoing and continued to gather traction but there is no deal imminent, sources said. There is currently a moratorium on trades as the NBA goes through procedures to start next season ahead of the league’s draft next week.
Brian Windhorst: The Phoenix Suns have had discussions about acquiring Chris Paul from the OKC Thunder, sources tell me & @Tim Bontemps. Story forthcoming.
“I think the Knicks have to be open to a lot of different things,’’ Fizdale said. “Would he be a great fit for them? Absolutely. I think he would fit those kids — Mitchell Robinson going to the rim, they get more spacing, more shooting. Absolutely, he would fit. The big stage. He doesn’t get sick [with COVID-19].” Nevertheless, Fizdale added: “For him, where he is at his career, I don’t think it’s a good fit for him and what he’s trying to do.’’
There has been no traction so far — and maybe not even any talks — on any deal sending Chris Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Bucks, multiple sources say.
The biggest name potentially on the trade market is 10-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul, but a deal for Paul is highly unlikely, according to league sources. Holiday is the next best point guard potentially available this offseason, but that doesn’t mean he is without questions.
Let me preface this by saying I’m not reporting a Chris Paul deal is any closer to happening than it was two weeks or two months ago, nor am I saying that Leon Rose is any more inclined to pay OKC’s asking price than he ever was before, but…
I’ve been told by a league source that Chris Paul prefers his next basketball home to be either in LA or NY (Los Angeles is where he resides full time) and that has created some modicum of leverage in the ongoing negotiations between the sides. I’m also told that there is a deal on the table that is comfortable from Sam Presti’s perspective, and the ball is in Leon Rose’s court.
3. Highest profile player you expect to change teams 5 — Chris Paul • “Depending on where he lands. He drastically changed OKC. I was a doubter, I gotta admit, but he led the team to a good playoff run. He showed he was still the man. Wherever he’s going to land it’s going to make a big difference.”
If point guard Chris Paul makes his way to the Knicks via a trade, sources have said Anthony is likely to want to follow. Anthony and Paul are close friends and have dreamed of playing together on an NBA team. Both players were represented by Knicks president Leon Rose when he was basketball chief of Creative Artists Agency. A source said Rose is amenable to an Anthony return even without Paul.
If James set his sights on Paul, the Lakers would have to send out five players: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green and Quinn Cook, along with Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee, who need to opt into their contracts to be dealt. L.A. would also need to send its No. 28 pick in November’s draft, signing that player before waiting 30 days to execute a deal in which the Lakers would offload almost $33 million in players salaries. Isn’t that too much of an upheaval for a team that just won a title? “It seems like a risk, but sometimes you need to [execute big moves] to make yourself even better,” the executive continued. “The [Golden State] Warriors will be better. The [Los Angeles] Clippers may be better. The [Denver] Nuggets aren’t going to get worse. Your competition is getting better. It worked [in Orlando] for the Lakers, but I don’t know if you have a normal regular season without the bubble if it does.”
The more explosive Westbrook probably is better equipped to carry the load for a team than Paul, who is a playmaker but not a one-man wrecking ball of a scorer. Reportedly, OKC’s asking price for Paul is very high and some league officials believe he’d prefer a title contender.
Chris Paul has value around the league despite the $85 million left on his deal. Instead of adding an asset to shed what is owed, the Thunder now are in the market to flip Paul only if draft picks or young players are coming back.
The Raptors are the betting favorites to re-sign VanVleet, but his free agency is unrestricted and the Knicks, according to sources, are among the other teams with interest. If they don’t pull the trigger on a Chris Paul trade, it certainly makes sense for the cap-loaded Knicks.
Despite his success with the Thunder, the 35-year-old guard has still found his name in potential trade rumors this offseason. “I’m 35 and I just finished my 15th year. Any team that I’m on I think that we’re competing for a championship,” Paul said, when asked by Sports Illustrated’s Robin Lundberg about his future and what he brings to a team. “And that’s the way we felt this year with OKC. We had a very, very special team and that’s why I think I was hurt and just so mad when we lost.”
If Knicks president Leon Rose takes the leap for 35-year-old Chris Paul, he may have to give up on Kevin Knox, according to an NBA source. The Thunder are motivated to deal Paul and his massive contract after deciding upon a rebuilding campaign following Billy Donovan’s firing. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti will likely want a first-round pick and a young prospect amid his rookie contract, multiple league officials believe.
According to the source, that young player preferably is Knox, the ninth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign. The Knicks have a trove of first-round picks to deal (seven first-round picks in the next four drafts). However, the belief is they’d prefer to keep the 20-year-old Knox out of any Pual scenario and offer up either of their 2017 lottery-pick point guards, Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr., restricted free agents in 2021.
In any blockbuster trade, the Knicks probably have to add the enigmatic but productive Randle into the mix. Adding Paul and the two years and $85 million left on his contract would likely kill their salary-cap space for the next two seasons. “I think both players are of equal value and I would even give Chris Paul an edge despite his salary and age,” ESPN cap guru and former Nets executive Bobby Marks told The Post. “I have concerns if Oladipo can get back to the high level he was before the injury. He is on an expiring contract and can leave as a free agent. He will likely not sign an extension. Where is he health-wise?”
There are two scenarios that would likely impact their approach on VanVleet: If the club traded for Chris Paul, it’s hard to see them also spending the money required to sign VanVleet; if they take one of the top point guards in the 2020 NBA Draft, it’s also hard to see them spending the money it would take to acquire VanVleet.
As for the reported prospect of the Bucks pursuing Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul as a possible solution to the roster deficiencies, sources with knowledge of ownership’s thinking said it was highly unlikely. The cost of bringing him aboard — Paul is owed $41.3 million next season and has a player option worth $44.2 million in the 2021-22 campaign — and the potential difficulty of bringing Paul onto a roster already led by a strong personality in Antetokounmpo seems to limit the chances of the Bucks moving to pair together the two All-Stars. All indications are that the Bucks would rather look elsewhere.
On Chris Paul trade scenarios: Gozlan: “Eric Bledsoe, Ersan Ilyasova – assuming you guarantee his $7 million salary for next season – and then you can do a variation of George Hill. I don’t think they want to trade George Hill. I think he was awesome for them, and they want to keep him. In that case, you can get away with Robin Lopez and DJ Wilson. After that, then you start talking about the incentives, maybe Donte DiVincenzo. On OKC’s side, they’d love to get a lot of picks and young players.” Scotto: “At that point, if you’re OKC, you’re signaling you’re fully rebuilding, and you’re going to really start to gut that roster. If you get rid of Chris Paul, Steven Adams will probably be talked about in trades. Dennis Schroeder as well. Danilo Gallinari (free agent) probably wouldn’t be brought back at that point, or you try a sign-and-trade to get him to a certain destination.”
Michael Scotto: “At that point, if you’re OKC, you’re signaling you’re fully rebuilding, and you’re going to really start to gut that roster. If you get rid of Chris Paul, Steven Adams will probably be talked about in trades. Dennis Schroeder as well. Danilo Gallinari (free agent) probably wouldn’t be brought back at that point, or you try a sign-and-trade to get him to a certain destination.”
If the Bucks don’t get him, they’re realistically looking at options along the lines of Dennis Schröder, Patty Mills, or Derrick Rose. Are any of them really moving the needle? It’s that, or running it back and hoping more chances come up down the line. As The New York Times’ Marc Stein first reported on Tuesday, league sources believe they’ll at least look into trading for Paul.
The Bucks would likely face competition in any pursuit of Paul. League sources say the Sixers front office has seriously debated the idea of chasing CP3. The Knicks, in desperate need of a player to lure prospective free agents, could also make a run at him after his former agent, Leon Rose, took over as team president. But there likely won’t be a lot of suitors for Paul. Not many teams need a point guard, nevermind an old one with an injury history making $41.4 million in 2020-21 with a player option to make $44.2 million in 2021-22. Paul proved this season he’s still a damn good player, but that doesn’t mean many teams want him.
Let’s bring in Captain Obvious to discuss one possibility: Paul to the Bucks. A package from Milwaukee might be the Thunder’s best case with the Point God, despite his awesome 2019-20 season, simply because he’s making such a huge number (over $41 million next year) at an advanced age. Even with Paul’s giant salary and the Bucks’ luxury tax concerns (if they remain concerns after what last year’s penny-pinching brought them), a deal is possible if the Bucks guarantee Ersan Ilyasova’s contract. Eric Bledsoe, Ilyasova, Robin Lopez (presuming he opts in), D.J. Wilson and the Bucks pick at 24 in the first round would form the salary match, with the fine print being haggling over additional assets and/or Donte DiVincenzo.
Marc Stein: There are rival teams that believe Milwaukee will explore trading for Chris Paul — complicated as that would be financially — if Oklahoma City indeed makes CP3 available via trade. One more thing to track as the Bucks enter perhaps the most crucial offseason in team history …
Royce Young, who covers the Thunder for ESPN, talked about OKC’s future on The Hoop Collective pod. Via Real GM: “By all appearances, once the Thunder make the move to move on from Chris Paul, that’s kind of when they’re going to hit the reset button,” Young said. “That’s when I think they’ll start tearing down some of the pieces. Schroder will go. Adams might go. And they’ll start to sort of begin their first ever rebuild since they moved to Oklahoma City.”
“I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of action in free agency,” said Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective Podcast. “There’s not going to be a whole lot of movement. The trade market is where the big movement in the offseason is going to be. And Chris Paul is one of the big things out there, for sure. And I also think there’s six or seven teams that are really prime to make a deal. Not for Chris Paul but…”
Daily Knicks: “If his buddy Chris Paul gets traded to the Knicks, that certainly increases the odds that Carmelo Anthony ends up back here in New York,” says @IanBegley on The Putback
Western Conference GM: “The contract is still too much. That is going to remain their problem. OKC, if they trade him, they’re going to want something back. But if I am going to take Chris Paul, I am looking at it like, ‘I am doing you the favor here, I am taking all this money off your hands.’ I don’t see that changing, I think he stays put.”
Mark Medina: If Chris Paul gets traded, that’s when you start to kind of pull some of the planks off the wall and start to sell off your spare parts. I think it’s much more likely that Chris Paul plays next season in Oklahoma City. I would guess that Chris Paul plays next year in OKC. And again, the caveat there is that somebody comes in and offers a first round pick for but like, I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.
Brandon Rahbar: “I think it’s much more likely that Chris Paul plays next season in Oklahoma City than he doesn’t. I would guess Chris Paul plays next year in OKC.” -Royce Young on the Daily Thunder Podcast
According to sources, with the pandemic creating an economic crisis for the NBA, teams might be eager to unload their giant contracts. Because the cap won’t be as high, the luxury tax looms larger. OKC has been fearful of the luxury tax, having once dumped James Harden.
There is so much uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, but one thing is for sure: the salary cap will be lowered, according to league sources. On the surface, that makes it advantageous to build around younger players on cheaper contracts. That said, if Rose has young assets to tempt the Thunder this offseason, sliding Paul into cap space will be easier than fitting in a top free agent. That’s because the Knicks would have to give up pacts such as those of Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox to make the trade.
Acquiring Paul shouldn’t be complicated for the Knicks. They have enough salary-filler to get CP3 and adequate young players and future draft picks to interest the Thunder. The Knicks only need to send out $32.987,051 in salary to acquire Paul’s $41,358,814 cap hit for 2020-21. They can guarantee a combination of Taj Gibson ($9.45 million), Wayne Ellington ($8 million), Elfrid Payton ($8 million), and Reggie Bullock ($4.2 million), and package them with one or two of their young players to reach the minimum outgoing salary amount.
There were NBA whispers when Rose verbally committed to Dolan in February that he would try to bring Anthony and Paul in to join him next season. Anthony is low-risk, high-reward — a free agent who is not looking to break the bank to retire as a Knick.
Paul received a warm welcome at Madison Square Garden after a report emerged Thursday that the Knicks were “gathering intel” on the 10-time All-Star. Asked after Friday’s game if he’s ever imagined playing for the Knicks, Paul wasn’t interested in entertaining the idea. “Man, I imagine playing in Boston on Sunday,” Paul said in reference to Oklahoma City’s next opponent. “That’s the only thing I think about.”
Chris Paul said the suggestions that he’s joining the Knicks are a diversion from the franchise’s latest embarrassing episode. While walking into Madison Square Garden before Friday’s game against New York, the Thunder guard was approached by a league employee and asked about the rumors. “They’re trying to take attention away from that Spike Lee stuff,” Paul responded as the exchange was caught on SNY.
At the same time, Paul perpetuated the idea of him with the Knicks by going directly to the court and hugging Knicks president Leon Rose. The two hugged and posed for a photo. “I’m going to run in there and run back out,” Paul said beforehand. “I want to take a picture with Leon.”
Erik Horne: Some solid cheers in pregame intros for Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari because he used to play here. Paul because of the reports that the Knicks are interested in trading for him. Paul typically gets booed on the road.
Last spring, then-agent Leon Rose was intrigued by the notion of the Rockets offering up his client Chris Paul to the Knicks, according to a league source. A report arose last June the Knicks had turned down the Rockets’ offer of Paul and his four-year, $159 million contract. Paul was eventually traded to Oklahoma City in a superstar swap for Russell Westbrook and is having a throwback season at age 34 — capped by a terrific performance in last month’s All-Star Game that included an athletic alley-oop slam.
According to an NBA source, Paul adores Rose, and a SiriusXM report surfaced Thursday that the Knicks are doing intel on the veteran point guard. Not that they need a lot of information — Paul had been with Rose at Creative Artists Agency for much of his career.
As one NBA executive put it, “Are the Knicks going to do their plan from 2010 10 years later? They get Chris, Melo and maybe Amar’e will come out of retirement.’’ Another team personnel man doesn’t see it as crazy. “The East is up for grabs,’’ he said. “If you make a few good changes … [Chris] has been pretty amazing, off the charts what he’s done to get the team winning, taking the leadership of a new team. He’s still burning to win a championship.”
Frank Isola: The Knicks, according to NBA sources, have been gathering intel on All Star Chris Paul and could make a run at him this summer. Paul, 34, carries a huge contract but he’s had a resurgent season in OKC & is proven leader. (He was also once represented by…Leon Rose.)
Sure, he’s playing for a team he said didn’t want to be traded to. But his teammates haven’t seen anything to indicate that Paul would rather be elsewhere. “It’s not even something to avoid, because there’s nothing there to avoid,” Bazley says of the trade speculation. “No one in the locker room, coaches, staff—and I’m confident I can speak for everyone—has a thought in their head. Chris has bought in, and there’s nothing lingering around, because there’s nothing that he gives off.”
The Thunder went into the season open-minded about their future after acquiring Chris Paul from the Rockets and Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from the Clippers. They’re still interested in hearing what teams are willing to offer before the trade deadline, but their 23-19 record should be enough to carry them into the playoffs, a stunning accomplishment after trading away Russell Westbrook and George.
With Dwight Howard successfully reunited with the Lakers, what about Chris Paul? “That’s a lot of salary to match, the Clippers would have to include Beverley, and the Thunder fans aren’t going to want that,” he said, referring to the incident when Westbrook suffered a season-ending injury after colliding with Beverley in the 2013 playoffs.
At this point, Miami’s interest in Paul is extinct, according to league sources. Miami is more likely to chase someone like Jrue Holiday, multiple front office executives believe.
Oklahoma City is a difficult read. “I’m not certain they are sellers,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “I think they try to make the playoffs.” A different executive in the East doesn’t agree and is confident the Thunder are open to offers for both Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari.
After polling executives, the league-wide sense is that Paul will remain with the Thunder this season simply because of his enormous contract. While it’s theoretically possible that Paul could agree to turn down his $44 million player option for 2021-22 to grease the wheels on a potential trade, right now, that is the longest of long shots. Besides overcoming the idea of giving up 44 million buckaroos, Paul is also the president of the players’ union and it would be a bad look to set that precedent of turning down that amount of money to make it more palatable to a team.
As it stands now, the Heat aren’t expected to make a run at Paul, per multiple sources. They like their locker room chemistry and aren’t actively looking to shake it up. More importantly, Paul’s contract complicates Miami’s potential future. Paul will be 35 years old in May and is due $41.4 million next season and will be 37 when he’s due $44.2 million. A glamour market like Miami doesn’t need to make trades to acquire a star. Smaller markets like Utah, Charlotte and Portland do.
Speaking of the Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC remains a playoff contender even after trading Westbrook and Paul George last offseason. The Thunder are just 11-12, but that’s good enough today for the 7-seed in the West. Despite their moderate success, plans haven’t changed; Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, and other veterans are all available, according to league sources.
The questions about where Paul will hoop are going to follow him through this season’s trade deadline. And if he’s not moved, then they’ll track him through the summer. Rival executives don’t see a robust market for Paul, particularly when you view him as a 34-year-old with more than $80 million and two more years left on his contract.
That leaves Milwaukee, which has been the subject of Paul trade rumors since the July deal that brought CP3 to OKC. The theory goes that the Bucks need to go all-in on this season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo up for free agency in 2021. But the Bucks are playing great, 10-3, and Milwaukee never is ready to jump into the luxury tax. Taking on Paul’s salary would put the Bucks in luxury tax jeopardy not necessarily this season, but in years to come.
The Lakers remain the team most likely to covet Paul. Money is no object to the Lakers. And while Davis and LeBron are going great guns, Davis is injury-prone and LeBron is almost 35. Paul would be an insurance policy. Of course, the Lakers don’t have a lot to offer. They can’t trade a first-round pick until 2026, and outside of Kyle Kuzma, LA has no young talent that would interest the Thunder.
Mark Medina: The Thunder would love to trade Chris Paul before the trade deadline so they can hoard even more young talent and draft picks. Other teams are reluctant to acquire Paul given his age, injury history and contract, so that might not happen. So for now, the Thunder has embraced leaning on Paul to keep the team competitive and mentor Shai-Gilgeous Alexander.
But league sources fully expect the Thunder to explore trading Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari to continue their rebuild following the Russell Westbrook and Paul George blockbusters this summer. Trading Gallinari wouldn’t be difficult, provided he’s healthy. Finding a new home for Paul will be tough. He’s 34, has an injury history, and is owed $124 million over the next three years. That deal is terrifying. Paul can help himself and the Thunder out by excelling this season. All it takes is one team to bite.
Adrian Wojnarowski: “When Oklahoma City got him this summer, their plan was to try to flip him somewhere else. They hoped Miami would be willing to talk about a deal and that never got anywhere. But maybe the Heat get off to a bad start… Maybe they look at this again. And other teams.”
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September 24, 2021 | 11:44 am EDT Update
Sarah K. Spencer: Hawks GM Travis Schlenk says it’s still the hope to get something done with Kevin Huerter by the start of this season, regarding an extension. Says negotiations are still ongoing.
Michael Singer: Michael Porter Jr.’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, to @denverpost regarding a contract extension: “Tim (Connelly) and I talk all the time, we have a great relationship.” So, yes, talks are ongoing. denverpost.com/2021/09/23/nug…
The Portland Trail Blazers have signed forward/center Marquese Chriss, guard Quinn Cook, forward Patrick Patterson and guard Dennis Smith Jr. to training camp contracts and guard/forward Keljin Blevins to a two-way contract, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Portland will begin its training camp with Media Day on Monday, September 27 followed by the team’s first practice on Tuesday, September 28. Training camp practice times will be relayed at a later date.
Brandon Rahbar: Sam Presti emphasizes that the Thunder won’t take any shortcuts in this rebuilding process. In other words, go ahead and trash your Karl-Anthony Towns and Ben Simmons trade machine results.
Brandon Rahbar: Sam Presti on Derrick Favors: “He brings defense and physicality. I’m excited to see how he fits. We’ll have to see how the season unfolds. But I think he can help the team absolutely. We’re excited about having him.”