After moving out of the shadow of James Harden in Houston, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul brought back his old self and proved to everyone in the league that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. However, though he’s currently expected to lead the Thunder in their first playoff appearance in the post-Russell Westbrook era, Paul’s future in Oklahoma City remains uncertain. Paul has not expressed his desire to leave the Thunder, but with his age, he’s clearly an odd fit on the roster.
When the 2019-20 NBA season is over, the Thunder are expected to explore trading Paul for assets that would help them speed up the rebuilding process. According to Sam Quinn of CBS Sports, one of the most intriguing landing spots for Paul in the 2020 offseason is his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite being considered the heavy favorite to fully dominate the Western Conference and win the 2020 NBA championship title, it still won’t be a surprise if the Clippers express interest in bringing Paul back this summer.
Paul may no longer be in his prime but adding a pure point guard like him to the Clipper star-studded roster would tremendously improve their passes per game and assist rate, which currently rank 26th and 23rd in the league, respectively. Though he failed to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his six-year stint with the Clippers, the outcome is expected to be different once he starts playing with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in Los Angeles.
However, as much as they wanted to bring him back this summer, acquiring Paul from the Thunder won’t be an easy task for the Clippers as they would need to sacrifice multiple players just to match the veteran point guard’s massive salary. As Quinn noted, a “four- or five-for-one trade” between the Thunder and the Clippers is possible but only has a minimal chance of happening this summer.
“They could use a pure point guard, with some combination of Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green and Rodney McGruder, they could at least theoretically cobble the necessary salary together. But neither side would seem particularly motivated to make a deal. The Thunder already stripped the Clippers for every worthwhile asset they had in the George deal, and matching salary won’t be enough for them. The Clippers rely heavily on their depth. A four- or five-for-one trade would be out of character.”
Paul would undeniably be an incredible addition to the Clippers’ championship core, especially knowing that their No. 1 Western Conference rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, are also planning to make major roster upgrades this summer. However, with their need to sacrifice the likes of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Ivica Zubac, the Clippers are better off targeting other pure point guards whom they could acquire without giving up an enormous amount of trade assets in the 2020 NBA offseason.