After years of trying to remain competitive, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now expected to take a different route in the 2019-20 NBA season. On paper, the Thunder still have enough talents to compete for a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference but since the departure of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, multiple signs are pointing out that Oklahoma City is heading into an inevitable rebuild. In his recent article, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reveals the Thunder’s major plan in the post-Westbrook era.
To confirm the rumors surrounding Oklahoma City since the 2019 NBA offseason, league sources who spoke to O’Connor revealed that the Thunder are open to dealing Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, and other veterans before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline. The Thunder are even reportedly willing to absorb huge contracts and help other NBA teams facilitate a blockbuster trade deal.
“The Thunder are over the luxury tax, but I’m told evading the tax isn’t a priority. The financial penalty is minimal this season, and they’ll be out of the tax in the coming years because of all of the expiring salaries they have over the next two seasons. In fact, the Thunder are actually willing to absorb long-term, pricey salaries in deals, according to league sources. The Thunder could be used as a facilitator to take on a salary in a multiple-team trade, or simply take back big salaries in return if it means receiving more assets.”
It makes a lot of sense for the Thunder to finally consider trading their veterans and start a full-scale rebuild. Though they are capable of extending their playoff streak in the 2019-20 NBA season, the Thunder don’t have what it takes to fully dominate the Western Conference against powerhouse teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Instead of staying as a mediocre team in the league, the Thunder have a better chance of returning to title contention if they start focusing on the development of their young players.
The Thunder would likely receive plenty of calls regarding their veterans, specifically Gallinari and Adams, before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline. Both big men are still in their prime, have short deals, and would be incredible additions to NBA teams who are in dire need of a frontcourt boost. In the potential deal involving Gallinari and Adams, the Thunder could at least get a future first-round pick in return.
Meanwhile, though he remains a reliable contributor on both ends of the floor, finding an NBA team who is willing to absorb Paul and his massive contract would be a challenge for the Thunder. If the Thunder are determined to move him, they should no longer expect to receive valuable assets in exchange for the veteran point guard.