Despite being traded to a presumed non-contender, veteran star Chris Paul can help steady the ship of the Thunder if both sides choose to stay together this season, Chad Smith of Basketball Insiders writes.
Paul, who’s entering his 15th season, was traded from Houston to Oklahoma City in a major deal involving Russell Westbrook this past summer. In the agreement, Oklahoma City also acquired first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 as well as pick swaps in 2021 and 2025.
While the Thunder were thought to be rebuilding after sending away both Westbrook and superstar Paul George in separate deals, the team currently has Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Andre Roberson and other veterans under contract for the upcoming season.
Paul failed to keep his footing in Houston alongside star guard James Harden, but he’s made a career out of running teams at lead guard when the ball is primarily in his hands. The Thunder can opt to keep the 34-year-old, who’s due $38.5MM, $41.3MM and $44.2MM (player option) in each of the next three seasons, or look to trade him and offload his contract from their books.
There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:
- The Trail Blazers’ title hopes largely hinge on whether Zach Collins can properly adapt his game this season, Jack Winter of Basketball Insiders writes. Collins could be named the team’s starting power forward with Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless no longer on the roster, making it imperative that he improves his game on the perimeter and continues to adapt entering his third NBA season.
- Eric Gordon will have four seasons’ worth of chances to guarantee the $20MM+ in the final year of his extension with the Rockets, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Gordon’s extension also contains a minutes criteria that he will likely reach in order to guarantee the final season, which only happens if he makes the All-Star team or the Rockets win an NBA championship, Marks notes. Gordon has this season, the 2020/21 season, 2021/22, and 2022/23 to reach the criteria needed for the final year.