According to a new list of suggested trade offers for the 2020 offseason, the Indiana Pacers could acquire Chris Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder by offering a package centered on the team’s current starting power forward, Domantas Sabonis.
According to Bleacher Report, Sabonis arguably stands out as the Pacers’ most “untouchable” player, given how he made his first All-Star Game appearance earlier this year. He is far less likely to move than guard Victor Oladipo, who has dealt with multiple injury concerns in recent years and has been mentioned in various trade rumors. However, the publication noted that Indiana has another talented, young big man in Myles Turner and that T.J. Warren raised his game in the NBA’s bubble as a small-ball power forward. That could make it logical for the organization to “entertain overtures” for Sabonis.
As suggested by the outlet, the Pacers could offer the 24-year-old big man to the Thunder along with reserve guards Jeremy Lamb and Aaron Holiday in a deal for Paul. The hypothetical deal would also allow Indiana to land Oklahoma City’s No. 25 overall pick in this year’s draft, as well as the 2022 first-round selection it acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Here, the Pacers would replace a plus-passing big with a historically proficient playmaker in Chris Paul, who has the seventh-most assists all-time and a minuscule 2.4 career turnover average. Slot him on the perimeter with Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon, and Indy has a trio who can all initiate offense, space the floor and hold their own on defense.”
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Paul enjoyed a bit of a career renaissance in the 2019-20 season, making his first All-Star team since 2016 and averaging 17.6 points, five rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He also shot 48.9 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three-point range — both improvements from his 2018-19 percentages with the Houston Rockets. The 35-year-old is currently on a contract that will pay him over $41.3 million next season, though he has a player option on the final year of his deal in 2021-22.
Talking about how Sabonis could benefit the Thunder if the transaction pushes forward, Bleacher Report wrote that his presence could allow the organization to move center Steven Adams — who is set to earn $27.5 million in 2020-21 — and free up some much-needed salary-cap space. Although the currently-injured Lamb was described as a “future trade chip,” Holiday was referred to as a potential “long-term keeper” for Oklahoma City.
Per Basketball-Reference, Sabonis posted career-best averages of 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and five assists while also shooting an impressive 54 percent from the field in 2019-20.