If the Thunder are hoping to trade Chris Paul soon, the first month of the NBA season hasn’t done them any favors, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, who notes that the teams most likely to be interested have all gotten off to strong starts.
The Heat were the focus of trade rumors after Oklahoma City acquired Paul from the Rockets in July, but Miami sits at 10-3 after winning tonight. Offseason addition Jimmy Butler is the team’s assist leader at 7.2 per game as they are succeeding without a traditional point guard. The Heat have already made it clear that their interest in Paul is tied to a return of the draft picks they owe OKC, and they may be even more reluctant now to break up a winning combination.
The Lakers have also been mentioned as a possibility because of Paul’s friendship with LeBron James. However, they hold the NBA’s best record at 12-2 and James leads the league in assists at 11.1 per game as he has developed an instant chemistry with Anthony Davis.
The Timberwolves, who chased D’Angelo Russell in the offseason, are off to a better-than-expected 8-7 start, Tramel notes, while the Bucks, who have incentive to gamble for a title before Giannis Antetokounmpo can become a free agent in 2021, are 11-3 and are reluctant to become a taxpaying team.
Paul’s contract remains an impediment to any deal, as he is signed for $41.3MM next season with a $44.2MM player option for 2021/22. He has played well for OKC, averaging 15.8 points and 5.6 assists through 14 games, but the Thunder appear to need at least one prospective trade partner to stumble before any progress can be made on a deal.