5 teams that would be good fits if the Thunder trade Chris Paul originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Though things worked surprisingly well for Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder this past season, some plugged-in reporters at ESPN are wondering if OKC will go ahead and trade the future Hall of Famer just one year after acquiring him. Brian Windhorst and Royce Young discussed Paul's future on ESPN's 'Hoop Collective' podcast and threw out some destinations that would make sense.
As outlined by NBC Sports Philly, the Sixers were highlighted as well as the Knicks and Bucks. Paul is 35 years old and due to make $41.4 million next season, but as he showed this past year, he can still get it done.
With that in mind, here are five teams that would make sense for Paul...
This does seem to be the most obvious fit. Philly needs a shakeup and Paul would help take their offense, which ranked 20th in points per game this season, to another level. He could form a great inside-outside combination with Joel Embiid and could free up Ben Simmons to be more of an off-ball point-forward like he was in the bubble.
The Sixers also have the pieces to make a Paul trade work. They still have a lot of future draft picks - including five this year alone - plus some expendable players like Al Horford, who could probably use a change of scenery. The Thunder, if you recall, nearly signed Horford in free agency back in 2016. It hasn't worked for him in Philly, but he can likely still help a team at 34.
Utah has reason to feel they underachieved this season, despite finishing tied for the fourth-best record in the West. They lost in the first round of the playoffs after leading the Nuggets 3-1 in the series. It was the second straight year Utah has lost in the first round after two years of making it to the second round, which is not the trajectory any team would hope for.
Mike Conley Jr. was supposed to be a big help at point guard, but his numbers dropped in his first year with the Jazz. Maybe a trade based around his salary with some protected picks could get a deal for Paul done. Conley is the two-way type the Thunder prefer and his contract would be off the books before Paul's. It could make sense for both sides.
The Knicks were mentioned as a possible place for Paul to land probably because they can absorb the salary with cap room to spare and they are desperate for their team to show some life. They haven't made the playoffs since 2013 and have only qualified four times since 2001. Paul is not the player he used to be, but he proved this season he can still be a key ingredient on a good team.
Paul's value could also be magnified in the thinner Eastern Conference, which he's never played in. Put him at point guard with R.J. Barrett on the wing and Mitchell Robinson roaming the paint ready for lobs and New York may not be far off. Paul has made the playoffs in 10 straight years. He might be able to help the Knicks get there, too.
Similar to the Jazz, the Suns made an upgrade last summer with a veteran point guard. They got Ricky Rubio, who had been in Utah, and came to Phoenix hoping to be the missing piece of a new team. Rubio was better than Conley this season, but Paul would represent another step up, even at his age.
If the Suns' 8-0 finish to the season is any indication, they are close to being true playoff contenders. That is nothing to sneeze at, given Phoenix hasn't made the postseason since 2009-10, when Steve Nash was their starting point guard. Paul could help further that cause by being the table-setter for Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. He would also come off the books right as Ayton is due for a rookie scale extension.
Similar to the Suns, but to a lesser extent, the Bulls have an array of emerging young players that Paul could help pull together to build something more substantial. If he landed in Chicago, he could help take Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.'s games to the new heights. And given he played fine with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the rotation, he should be able to co-exist with Coby White.
Otto Porter Jr. could make sense as a chip in a Paul trade. He has a high salary ($28.5M) that could be used to match Paul's, he would help with three-point shooting, which the Thunder really need, and he could be a replacement for Danilo Gallinari, if Gallinari leaves in free agency. Gallinari is better and more reliable than Porter, but if he's healthy, Porter could help in similar ways be spreading the floor.