Since the blockbuster deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets became official, rumors have been continuously swirling around All-Star point guard Chris Paul and his future with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul may somewhat fill the hole Westbrook left on the team, but with the Thunder expected to undergo a full-scale rebuild, he’s clearly an odd fit on their roster. However, with limited interest in the trade market, recent reports reveal that the Thunder may choose to keep Paul on their roster for the entire 2019-20 season.
In a recent appearance on an ESPN special with Zach Lowe, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that most people in the league don’t see Paul being moved before the February trade deadline.
“There is no belief in Oklahoma City or even the CP3 camp that there’s going to be a trade for him,” Wojnarowski said, as quoted by CBS Sports. “After the season, another year off that giant contract? Maybe. He’s played well for them. Forty million dollars plus, they’re resigned that he’ll be there.”
Sean Deveney of Heavy echoed the same sentiment in his recent article and added that the Thunder could somehow receive some benefits from keeping Paul on their roster. Aside from having an incredible mentor for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Deveney believes that having Paul on their side would help the Thunder earn a playoff spot this season.
“Most likely, then, Paul will play out this season for the Thunder and that might not be a bad thing for all sides,” Deveney wrote. “Oklahoma City is 11-14 on the year, which is good enough to have them in contention for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.”
Despite losing Westbrook and Paul George in the offseason, the Thunder are still playing like a legitimate playoff contender this season. As of now, the Thunder have won six of their last 10 games and are currently tied with the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference.
Trying to remain a competitive team may decrease the Thunder’s chances of acquiring a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but being exposed in the postseason would be vital for the development of their young players.
However, though Paul is expected to finish the season in Oklahoma City, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Thunder no longer have plans to make moves before the February trade deadline. As Deveney noted, the Thunder are still open to trading some of the veterans on their roster, including Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, and Dennis Schroder.