Chris Paul Getting Traded To Bucks, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers Or Heat?
Chris Paul has somehow turned into the NBA’s hottest available free agent despite not actually being a free agent.
The 35-year-old is still under contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder and due to make $85 million over the next two seasons.
However, with OKC and head coach Billy Donovan going their separate ways this past week, it is clear that change is on the horizon. The Thunder are looking to rebuild, and the only way to truly do that is to get rid of Paul.
On Tuesday night, when the Milwaukee Bucks got eliminated from the postseason by the Miami Heat, chatter began once more regarding Paul possibly joining forces with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
An interesting take from Giannis. https://t.co/ilbTNIsJAg
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 9, 2020
Antetokounmpo is set to hit free agency after next season, and Bucks management is scrambling to find him some support.
Paul would smooth out a lot of the reigning MVP’s offensive weaknesses, all the while possibly counteracting some of Mike Budenholzer most notable coaching flaws.
“Chris Paul to Milwaukee is going to become a conversation,” ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst confirmed on Wednesday.
“Chris Paul to Milwaukee is going to become a conversation.”
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) September 9, 2020
But Milwaukee won’t be alone in pursuing Paul’s services.
Earlier this week, Kemba Walker revealed the worst kept secret in the league – the Los Angeles Lakers have needed and continue to need a top-level point guard.
Last year, when his time with the Charlotte Hornets was clearly coming to an end, LA made a serious push to attain the former UConn standout.
“[Kemba Walker] began to consider other teams,” Sopan Deb of the New York Times wrote.
“At first, Walker said, he was heavily pursued by the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks and the team he grew up closest to, the Knicks. He considered going home.”
The Lakers obviously were unable to close on Walker, and the team continues to have a giant hole at the point guard spot as a result. Every single time LA finds itself in a situation where LeBron James or Rajon Rondo is not running the offense, it falters.
One person who isn’t buying into the “Playoff Rondo” hype? Rajon Rondo. https://t.co/xzI60UaNWn
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 9, 2020
Paul would go a long way in fixing that problem. That is why Rob Pelinka was interested in him last summer. Never mind the fact that he should have ended up with the Lakers back during the Kobe Bryant Era, before “basketball reasons” ultimately cost him a possible championship.
If the Bucks and Lakers don’t step up, the New York Knicks just might. Multiple reports have emerged over the past few weeks of new team president Leon Rose having visions of a three-headed monster starring Paul, Victor Oladipo and Carmelo Anthony.
Then there are the Philadelphia 76ers, who were just unceremoniously booted from the postseason by the Heat. According to The Ringer’s NBA insider Kevin O’Connor, “the Sixers front office has seriously debated the idea of chasing CP3.”
Speaking of Miami, Paul has been linked to Pat Riley and Co. dating back to last summer when he was first traded from the Houston Rockets to Oklahoma City. There was a lot of speculation early in the season that if the Heat struggled, a deal would ultimately be struck for Paul’s services.
Of course, when both the Heat and Thunder experienced immensely — and unexpectedly — successful campaigns to start the year, a trade suddenly seemed less necessary.
All in all, Paul will have no shortage of suitors this offseason.
Obviously him commanding $41.4 million in 2020-21 and $44.2 million in 2021-22 is less than ideal, but that is the price championship teams will need to pay to be in serious contention.
Thunder GM Sam Presti fired the opening salvo in the Thunder’s inevitable rebuild this week when Donovan was pushed out the door. Now the clock is running on a true fresh start, and that cannot happen with Paul still on the roster.
A big trade for the 35-year-old is brewing. At this point it is a matter of when, not if.