After suffering a massive defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors for the second consecutive year, the Houston Rockets decided to make a huge roster overhaul this summer. In a blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Rockets gave up a trade package including Chris Paul and multiple first-round picks in exchange for Russell Westbrook. The Rockets believe that replacing the aging Paul with a younger, MVP-caliber point guard like Westbrook would enable them to maximize James Harden’s championship window.
Since the deal became official, rumors have still circulated around Paul and his future with the Thunder. Paul may be expected to start the 2019-20 NBA season as a member of the Thunder, but multiple signs are suggesting that he may be moved before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline. According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, one of the NBA teams who may consider trading for the veteran point guard is the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks may have not made any major roster upgrades in the 2019 offseason, but they are currently considered as one of the top favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season. However, in order to boost their chance of bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the Bucks should continue to find ways to improve their current roster. Chris Paul may be older, but he is still a much better point guard than Eric Bledsoe.
Last season, Paul averaged 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.0 steals while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc. Though he has shown some decline with his performance, there is still a chance for Paul to bring back his old form now that he is no longer playing under the shadow of Harden.
“Turning Eric Bledsoe, a disappointing playoff performer the past two years, into Paul could communicate this front office’s level of commitment to championship contention. Paul’s outside shot and distributing would both relieve burdens on Antetokounmpo, while his defense—the best at the position by ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus—could make this group even stingier. This might make Milwaukee top-heavy, but star-driven squads raise championship banners.”
In the proposed trade from Bleacher Report, the Bucks would be sending a trade package including Eric Bledsoe, Ersan Ilyasova, Robin Lopez, D.J. Wilson, and Donte DiVincenzo to the Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul and a 2020 first-round pick. Though the deal works financially, the Bucks and the Thunder would still have to wait until mid-December to make the deal since Lopez just signed a new contract in the 2019 NBA free agency period.
However, if the trade becomes a reality, it would not only be beneficial for the Bucks, but also for the Thunder. Though it won’t give them an immediate salary cap relief, the deal would allow the Thunder to add two young and promising talents in Wilson and Donte DiVincenzo to the core of the next championship team that they will try to build in the post-Russell Westbrook era.