NBA Rumors: Jazz Could Send Mike Conley & 2022 1st-Round Pick To Thunder For Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul is expected to be one of the most coveted players on the trade market in the 2020 offseason. With the team likely headed in a different direction after the 2019-20 NBA season, most people expect the Thunder to trade Paul for assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process. Once he becomes officially available on the trading block, several teams that are in dire need of a backcourt boost and additional star power are expected to express a strong interest in acquiring CP3 from the Thunder, including the Utah Jazz.
According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, the Jazz may consider sending a package that includes Mike Conley and a Top 5 protected 2022 first-round pick to Oklahoma City in exchange for Paul.
“The Jazz have found a better balance this season—their offense has climbed to 10th in efficiency—but it could use another shot-creator in the half-court. Even at age 35, Paul remains one of the best in the business. He ranks in the 93rd percentile of pick-and-roll ball-handlers and sits in the 73rd percentile on isolations. He also plays Quin Snyder-approved levels of defense, and that two-way balance has netted him the sixth overall spot in ESPN’s real plus-minus. Paul would better weaponize Rudy Gobert as a lob threat and free Donovan Mitchell to further hone his attention on scoring.”
Paul may no longer be in his prime, but as of now, he’s clearly a much better floor general than Conley and would be a nicer fit with Jazz franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Though he would affect their salary cap flexibility for the next two years, his arrival in Utah could help them improve their performance on both ends of the floor and make them a more competitive team in the deep Western Conference next year.
Paul would give the Jazz a very reliable scoring option next to Mitchell and Gobert and one of the best playmakers the league has ever seen. This season, the 35-year-old point guard is averaging 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. CP3 may not have given any indication that he’s no longer happy in Oklahoma City, but at this point in his NBA career, he would undeniably be better off playing for a team that has a realistic chance of winning a championship title.
Meanwhile, the proposed trade deal is indeed a no-brainer for the Thunder. Trading Paul’s massive salary for Conley’s expiring contract would enable the Thunder to open up enough salary cap space to chase big names in the 2021 free agency. Also, using the 2022 first-round pick, they would have the opportunity to add another young and promising talent to their roster.