Published: Fri, July 19, 2019
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Expectation Growing That Chris Paul Will Start Season on OKC Thunder

Expectation Growing That Chris Paul Will Start Season on OKC Thunder

Oklahoma City received Paul alongside first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 in a trade that sent All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to the Rockets last week.

It bears reminding that the Thunder are best-served by insisting they're comfortable holding onto Paul for the foreseeable future.

Paul and his representatives have worked with the team to find a trade destination but for a bevy of reasons, no deal has surfaced.

Because the Houston-Oklahoma City trade came so late in free agency - coupled with three years, $124 million left on Paul's contract - there are no contenders with the cap space or roster structure to incorporate parameters of a deal for Paul.

Should Paul stick with the Thunder, OKC could still be a threat to make the National Basketball Association playoffs in the revamped Western Conference, which is bad news for a Kings team looking to make another leap and snap their 13-year playoff drought. The Thunder don't have a Western Conference championship contender, but they do have a core with Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that will not be participating in the NBA's annual race to the bottom.

But it's become increasingly likely that Paul will wear a Thunder uniform in real life this season, and that has some OKC fans asking questions about the team's rebuild process in the wake of trading All-Stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Free agents signed this offseason can't be traded until December 15 of this coming season, which is when Paul rumors are expected to again heat up.

Paul began his career in OKC with the Hornets. While it was sad to see Chris Paul leave Houston, especially after his contributions both on and off the court, it's quite obvious that Houston improved after the trade. The money owed to Paul would be the largest hurdle in any potential trade.

Paul reportedly prefers to land with the Heat, but talks between the two teams recently hit a snag over draft picks.

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