Nov 7, 2020

Destination Options For Chris Paul For the Upcoming NBA Season

Omar Abubakar

hen Chris Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in July of 2019, many in the NBA world expected him to be sent away by the trade deadline in February. What they didn't expect was that Chris Paul would be a leader to this young Thunder team and push his teammates as much as possible. With his leadership on the court, they pushed the Houston Rockets with James Harden and Russell Westbrook to 7 games; but alas, it just wasn't enough despite the team's valiant effort.

CP3 averaged 21.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists during that grueling 7 game series, and these great numbers coupled with Paul's outstanding ability to close games in the clutch makes him a target for many contending teams that want to compete. Make no mistake, acquiring Chris Paul via trade is without question a "win now" move, and with him being now 35 years old, it would be in his best interest to join a contending team. A championship would add to his already illustrious hall of fame career to new heights.

According to a report from sports journalist Ryen Russillo, keeping Paul would be a burden on the Thunder's salary cap situation, and the front office of the Thunder wouldn't send him to a team that is in the rebuilding phase:

"I've been told that they're not going to send Chris Paul to somewhere that sucks. He'll have some say".

The Options

CP3's contract situation is definitely tricky, as he was owed $38.5 million last season, will receive $41.3 million for this upcoming NBA season starting on December 22nd, and will be owed $44.2 million in 2021-2022.

CP3 reportedly expressed an interest to living in either New York or Los Angeles. The Knicks are out of the question due to their irrelevancy, and the Nets already have Kyrie Irving playing the same position. Paul already spent 6 seasons with the Clippers without making the conference finals during the "Lob City" era with Blake Griffin, hence a return there doesn't seem like a realistic option.

The Lakers are a long shot, due to their packed roster and the unlikelihood of their front office acquiring that massive contract. Letting go of players like Danny Green, Javale McGee, Avery Bradley, and even Kyle Kuzma would have to be on the negotiating table, but that trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Chris Paul would be devastating for the league, despite the massive loss of depth on their bench. If Rajon Rondo does not rejoin the team, acquiring CP3 would be something the Lakers should consider, especially considering the fact that it would take some pressure off of LeBron James from a facilitating perspective. Rondo's leadership intangibles proved dividends in the Laker locker room this past season, and Paul's would no doubt have the same effect if not better.

The Miami Heat took a massive step in the development of their players, with a trip to the NBA finals this past season. With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the Heat could use a defensive dog which aligns to what Pat Riley looks for. By including a potential top 5 MVP candidate with the toughness to play 48 minutes alongside Jimmy Butler, the Heat would be favorites to come out of the East in this situation. The team would have to give up a plethora of young talent and veteran pieces such as Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynk, and Andre Iguodala, which would be a huge gamble for a player that is not far away from father time.

Lastly, from another win now perspective, there is one team that desperately needs a true point guard, and this was likely one of the main reasons as to why they underperformed in the bubble playoffs: The Milwaukee Bucks. Players such as Eric Bledsoe, D.J Wilson, Robin Lopez and Ersan Ilayosova would have to be on the table at bare minimum. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti would likely ask for future picks on top of this, and it would be something interesting to speculate on moving forward.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Left), and Chris Paul (Right)

The Bucks certainly missed Malcom Brogdon, that facilitator that ran the offense efficiently last season, and it cost them. When the going got tough in the playoffs, an option to settle things down and maximize the strengths of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton coupled with veteran leadership is something the Bucks are currently missing from that position. It would be in the best interest for the Bucks to attempt this, mainly because Giannas Antetokonmpo has one last season signed with the team, and it would help convince the superstar that the team is doing everything they can to try and win now.

Where do you think Chris Paul should go?

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