The Oklahoma City Thunder rebuild appears to be on its way and the 2020-21 off-season is set to be a fire sale including Chris Paul. Oklahoma City had a wonderful season finishing the year with a 44-28 record and pushing Houston to seven games. However, with Billy Donovan‘s departing for the Chicago Bulls, the Thunder have effectively announced their plans to rebuild.
One player who re-invented his image while on the Thunder is future Hall of Famer Chris Paul. The star guard was deemed “washed” by many fans and his trade for Russell Westbrook was thought to be a huge win for the Houston Rockets. Instead, Paul averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on 48.9 percent shooting, 36.5 percent from three, and 90.7 from the line. He led the league with 150 clutch points, tied for first in clutch steals (10), earned an All-Star spot, and garnered an All-NBA Second team selection.
After the NBA effectively wrote him off, the 35-year-old reasserted himself as one of the game’s greats. With his value at an all-time high, General Manager Sam Presti will look to deal the future Hall of Famer in exchange for young players, picks, or a combination of both.
Oklahoma City Thunder and Chris Paul: Three Trade Idea’s
Leon Rose and Chris Paul Re-Unite with the New York Knicks
The Thunder receive three underachieving former lottery picks and a 2021 first-round pick from New York (via Dallas). Julius Randle (seventh overall in 2014), Dennis Smith (ninth in 2017) and Kevin Knox (ninth in 2018) have all disappointed in their short careers. However, they get a chance to redeem themselves with a franchise known for rehabbing reclamation projects. The 2021 pick via Dallas is the prized possession in this deal while helping New York rid itself of players on their way out.
The Knicks receive a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul who offers them a reprieve. Paul gives the Knicks a chance to earn some positive publicity while also acting as a mentor for cornerstone RJ Barrett. Paul was a huge influence on the Thunder’s young players allowing them to grow at exponential rates.
Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns Make a Deal
Oklahoma City receive an interesting set of pieces in Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, and the 10th pick in 2020. Rubio replaces Paul’s veteran play with the Thunder eating the final two years and $34-million of his contract. Oubre is just 24-years-old but has curiously been in rumors since last year. He is an athletic forward with some shooting ability and fits the Thunder’s culture. Jerome is a skilled guard selected 24th overall in 2019 and is an interesting piece alongside the Thunder’s defensive guards. The 1oth pick is a swap for the 25th pick.
The addition of Paul undoubtedly raises the Phoenix Suns‘ ceiling to a real contender. After an 8-0 bubble experience, the Suns stand to be a force should everyone remain healthy. Devin Booker was sensational at Disney World and its now time for the 23-year-old to take a step into the superstar stratosphere. A starting line-up of Paul, Booker, Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton is salivating. The Suns would swap first-rounders with the Thunder and also take the Thunder’s second-round pick.
Small Markets Do Business
This deal stands to be one of the most important this offseason. The Thunder receive Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova, the 24th pick, and two future second-rounders. This is a lot to give up for the Milwaukee Bucks but I anticipate Thunder General Manager Sam Presti will try to leverage them. Oklahoma City absorbs Bledsoe’s remaining three-years, $54.4-million (the final year is only $4.9-million guaranteed), and welcomes DiVincenzo to the rotation. Ilyasova is unlikely to play for the Thunder since his option is team controlled and the picks are the sweetener to the deal.
Chris Paul raises Milwaukee’s ceiling as he plugs most of the weaknesses of the roster. The future Hall of Famer is a reliable scorer, an excellent leader, and possesses a high basketball IQ. The Bucks struggled to close games in big moments and Paul has excellent post-season statistics. Adding his playstyle to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton creates a high-end Championship roster.
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