After losing Russell Westbrook and Paul George in separate blockbuster deals, most people are wondering what route the Oklahoma City Thunder are planning to take in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Thunder may have acquired quality veterans that would help them fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference but since the departure of Westbrook and George, multiple signs are point out that Oklahoma City is heading into an inevitable rebuild.
As of now, the Thunder are expected to trade their veterans before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline and focus on the development of their young players in the 2019-20 NBA season. Though they have enough talents to remain competitive in the Western Conference, sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer believes that the Thunder would “explore trading” Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari.
“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.”
At this point in their NBA career, Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari are undeniably better off being traded to a legitimate title contender than wasting their remaining years in the league on a rebuilding team like the Thunder. O’Connor believes that the Thunder won’t have a hard time finding a trade partner for Gallinari. The 31-year-old small forward is still in his prime and he’s currently entering the final year of his contract which would enable his potential suitors to boost their chances of contending for the NBA championship title while preserving their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2020.
However, Chris Paul’s case is different. Aside from his age and deteriorating performance, Paul still has three years and $124 million left on his contract. Several NBA teams who are in dire need of a backcourt boost have already expressed interest in acquiring Paul, but his massive deal is making them think twice about making a deal with the Thunder. The Miami Heat, who are considered an “obvious destination” for the veteran point guard, are reportedly demanding compensation from the Thunder in the potential deal involving Paul. Unfortunately, the Thunder have been hesitant to part ways with a future draft asset just to unload Paul and his lucrative contract.