The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be doing what they were supposed to do this past season; blowing it up and rebuilding.
With news of Billy Donovan and the Thunder mutually parting ways, alongside Chris Paul’s message (that felt a lot more like “farewell” than a “thank you”) it seems more and more likely that the Thunder will be moving in an entirely different direction (down) next season.
The biggest domino to fall in the sequence that would turn this rocket ship to a titanic to a tank (robots in disguise); is Chris Paul.
According to Brandon Robinson of Heavy.com, better known as “Scoop B”, suitors are lining up to add the resurgent All Star point guard to their respective rosters.
Being as the Thunder are not playing basketball anymore until the 2021 season begins (sadface), this seems like the perfect time to dive into what some of those potential deals could look like!
A Rose in the Garden
The New York Knicks were the common name thrown around by Thunder fans when hoping to trade away Chris Paul. They had the cap space, they needed a point guard, and they may just be dumb enough to overpay for a washed up has been.
Chris Paul has proven to not be a washed up has been. So when new of Leon Rose being hired by the Knicks as the President came out, the rumors of CP3 to NY intensified.
Rose being Chris Paul’s agent for so long, and hiring Tom Thibodeau (famously not a developmental coach) made it seem like a perfect move to make.
The Thunder get a young do it all power forward in Julius Randle to inevitably replace Danilo Gallinari, and maybe even Steven Adams. Bobby Portia and Taj Gibson to shore up front court depth (Nerlens Noel being a free agent). Sam Presti gets to do what he loves to do, kick the tires on a former lottery pick in Kevin Knox (former college teammate of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo) and see if he can shake the “Knick” out of him. Throw in a 2021 Clippers pick swap and it’s a solid package. (And we control even MORE of LAC’s future mwahahaha)
The Knicks get an all star point guard, who has proven to *still* be a great leader on and off the court, who can help lay the foundation of a winning culture that the New York Knocks so desperately need.
PG Swap and All That Jazz
This trade is simple. You swap a guy who failed to meet expectations last season, for a guy who shattered every expectation last season.
OKC gets to trim a year of salary, and a couple of picks for their trouble. (Hey maybe we can rehab Mike Conley like we did CP3)
The Utah Jazz get a more compatible fit to Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, actually making them *realistic* contenders in the west as opposed to the lies we believed when Conley was traded there.
Suns Rising High
After going an impressive 8-0 in the bubble, the Phoenix Suns are ready to show the world they mean business. Ricky Rubio proved to be such a great alongside Devin Booker and co, one would only imagine if you step up the caliber of the point guard spot you would only see more success.
Thunder get a savy veteran glue guy (that could show Shai a thing or two about playmaking), and bring back young players in Kelly Oubre Jr. (not playing during bubble explosion) and Cameron Johnson (it is known that the Thunder had interest in him during the draft process) as opposed to picks.
Suns get a better playmaker, as well as a capable scorer to take the pressure off of Book; throughout the game and in the clutch.
Mavs Pony Up
Luka Doncic did his best to will the Mavs past the almighty Clippers, but with Kristaps Porzingis going down with injury, he just couldn’t get it done by himself. It was clear they needed one more piece to make them legitimate contenders.
The Thunder get a scorer in Tim Hardaway Jr. that you could likely flip at the deadline, a solid center in Dwight Powell, two young prospects in Justin Jackson and Jalen Brunson, and a future first rounder to play with.
The Mavs, who were an absolutely dreadful team in the clutch, add the king of the clutch in Chris Paul. Much like he would with Booker, he would help alleviate pressure from Luka in scoring and distributing.
Sixers Swing for the Fences
The Sixers have tried for years to build a team around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and have failed for years to build a team around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
The lack of shooting between the two of them being the main thing they are lacking.
Thunder swallow Al Horford’s ridiculous contract (and two picks just for that), as well as veteran wing Mike Scott, and two young players in mystery Zhaire Smith, and rookie defensive standout Matisse Thybulle to pair with Lu Dort for the scariest defensive backcourt in recent memory.
Chris Paul has been a proven 3 level scorer over the course of his career, and could even benefit the team by playing off ball with Simmons, as he shot 47.3% off of spot up shots. Chris Paul’s leadership would be the big get here though, hopefully he can play the mediator between the two former #1 picks and unlock something special in them.
Bucks Desperate to Please Giannis
It’s no secret that Giannis Antetokounmpo is a free agent after this coming season. It’s also no secret that if the Bucks don’t do something to push him closer to contention they may be kissing their Greek Freak goodbye.
The Thunder bring back Eric Bledsoe after trading him to the Clippers on draft night in 2010 (with potential of trading him once again), also bring back Ersan Ilyasova for some front court depth alongside Dragan Bender and DJ Wilson to see if they have anything to unlock, Donte DiVencenzo for some scoring/playmaking potential at the guard position, and exploit the Bucks desperation to improve the roster by getting 3 future first rounders.
The Bucks get a much needed improvement at the point guard position, giving the Bucks an entirely new dynamic on offense that would free up Giannis and Khris Middleton for even more looks on the offensive end.
THE DARK HORSE
Now obviously, this team was not in Scoop B’s report. However, this is my article so let’s have a little fun with it.
The Thunder get young studs, Caris LaVert and Jarret Allen, as well as wing depth in Taurean Prince.
But you aren’t wondering why the Thunder do the trade.
Yes, the Nets have Kyrie Irving. Yes, the Nets have Kevin Durant. But without a 3rd guy there, they aren’t making it to the Finals by themselves, let along winning a ring.
Enter; Christopher Emmanuel Paul.
All the things I have mentioned above, clutch scoring, less pressure on the stars, more scoring are all the same here. But the big thing here is leadership.
Kyrie and KD are both phenomenal players. But neither one of them have proven to be effective leaders. Neither one of them are alpha dogs, mentally that is.
KD had Russell Westbrook, then he had Stephen Curry. Kyrie had LeBron James, then he realized he had no one in Boston.
Chris Paul is the definition of an alpha dog.
He has also shown that he can play effectively alongside high usage guards like Shai and Dennis Schröder. (So effective that it was the leagues best 3 man lineup for a majority of the season.) You can’t tell me that he wouldn’t be able to do the same thing with Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Lastly, Steve Nash was hired by the Brooklyn Nets to be the head coach. Nash was one of the greatest point guards of all time, Chris Paul is also in that conversation. You put those two together? Just imagine what sets they would come up with. What mismatches they would exploit. What kind of amazing game plans that would construct. Like c’mon man.
In the end, there is no telling where Chris Paul will land. The only thing we know for sure is, teams are calling, and Presti is plotting.
What do you think will happen? Let me know on my Twitter @ThunderChats!