Talks around trading Chris Paul from Oklahoma City have stalled, and the point guard is expected to start the season with the Thunder, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The Thunder acquired Paul in last week’s trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, and the expectation was that Oklahoma City would look to move the 34-year-old nine-time All-Star as the team transitioned into rebuilding mode.
The trade was a late addition to the NBA’s free agency period that saw several stars sign deals with new teams, leaving few teams with the roster and salary cap flexibility to make a move for Paul, who carries with him a contract that has three years and $124 million remaining.
OKC reportedly struggled to find trade partner
The Thunder have been working with Paul to find a trade partner, but have not found one, according to the report, leading to the conclusion that Paul could very likely start the season in Oklahoma City.
The Miami Heat, who had reported interest in Westbrook before the Rockets deal, were also reported to be a possible destination for Paul shortly after the Westbrook trade. Those talks apparently did not come to fruition.
Paul has played in OKC before
With the reality of the difficulty of getting a deal done, both sides have come to the conclusion that “a season together could be beneficial,” according to the report.
Paul played his rookie season in Oklahoma City as a member of the New Orleans Hornets, who temporarily relocated that year after Hurricane Katrina. It was a positive experience, according to the report.
Why would Thunder want to keep CP3?
But aside from Paul having positive feelings about the area, there’s very little upside for either side for Paul to suit up for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have stripped themselves of top-tier talent this offseason to acquire draft picks. Between the Westbrook trade and the deal to send Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City has stockpiled eight additional first-round draft picks between next year and 2026.
A 34-year-old All-Star scheduled to make $38.5 million next season does not fit in with those rebuilding plans.
Deal could be done after season starts
For Paul, who is still seeking his first NBA Finals appearance, a late-career season on a stripped-down roster does not make much sense. But the Thunder are content on keeping him on the roster rather than surrender draft-pick compensation to unload his contract, according to the report — for now, at least.
If he does start the season with the Thunder, it doesn’t mean he’ll finish it there.
The Thunder believe they might find more success when the trade landscape changes after Dec. 15, according to the report. At that point, free agents who signed new deals this summer will be eligible to be traded.
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