The offseason is now in full swing in the NBA, which has brought forth the rumor mill around the league. Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Chris Paul has been among the most prominently mentioned names in trade discussions. The conversation has quickly shifted over to a Western Conference team, making a strong push to acquire Paul.
The Thunder are willing to trade Chris Paul
The 2019-20 season put Chris Paul back on the map as one of the NBA’s top players.
Paul helped guide the Thunder back into the playoffs behind his production and tremendous leadership. His play also helped him earn his 10th All-Star selection and fourth Second-Team All-NBA nod behind averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.0 rebounds on 48.9% shooting from the floor and 36.5% from 3-point range.
Throughout the process, Oklahoma City has remained quite understanding while expressing willingness to trade Paul this offseason. General manager Sam Presti previously demonstrated all that last offseason after Russell Westbrook and Paul George were moved to teams aiming to compete for an NBA title.
Paul’s situation isn’t much different, aside from his massive remaining contract with $85.5 million over the next two years. With that in mind, another possible trade scenario has quickly emerged.
The Suns have expressed interest in Chris Paul
With the Thunder having the willingness to move Chris Paul this offseason, there has been some movement on that front.
Beyond the initial speculative rumors around possible interest from the LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks, there hadn’t been much legitimate chatter. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Phoenix Suns have now entered the mix by expressing a desire to trade for the 10-time All-Star.
The talks between the Thunder and Suns are reportedly ongoing and gaining traction, but no deal is imminent. Phoenix’s interest in Paul likely stems from the desire to build off the promising success in the Orlando Bubble situation.
The franchise already possesses a franchise cornerstone player with All-Star Devin Booker to pair Paul with to push them forward into playoff contention. The Suns also have other young talents, such as Deandre Ayton, that could be quite appealing with the star point guard in the mix.
Phoenix can take on much of Paul’s remaining massive contract with around $20 million in salary-cap space this offseason. The 35-year-old is in the third year of his four-year, $159.7 million deal with a $44.2 million player option for the 2021-22 campaign and will earn $41.3 this upcoming season.
The Suns also have another intriguing connection with head coach Monty Williams, who coached Paul briefly from 2010 to 2011 with the then-New Orleans Hornets. There could be some momentum building toward this scenario, but it will be one of several.
Several options will emerge in the trade market
The Suns have quickly taken the early frontrunner position to snag Chris Paul this offseason, but there may wind up being several other teams in the mix.
The Bucks may likely make a strong push to land Paul, given the desire to build a championship contender around Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has proven to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference but is missing another star to push them forward in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the chatter could shift over to teams, such as the LA Clippers, who are looking to add a playmaker at the point guard position. Earlier this week, the team was linked to former league MVP Russell Westbrook.
Although Paul is under contract for the next two seasons, there is a building notion that he has played his last game with the Thunder. He is at the point of his career where he’s looking to maximize his opportunity to compete for an NBA title.
As the offseason moves along into free agency and the 2020 NBA draft in the upcoming weeks, there should be much more clarity on the trade front.