Thunder

The 5 Best Landing Spots for Chris Paul

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There was a time when people predicted Chris Paul wouldn’t play a single game for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Fast forward one year, and CP3 is coming off of one of his best years in the NBA. With averages of 18-7-5, he led the Thunder to the playoffs despite experts predicting that they would be one of the worst teams in the league.

His efforts paid off too. CP3 made his first All-Star team since 2016, made the All-NBA Second Team and also finished 7th in MVP voting.

With Mark Daigneault assuming the head coach role, it feels like the Thunder are ready to tank for at least a season or two while they develop their young guys. It’s vital they cash in on CP3 this offseason, with his value through the roof right now. The question is, which team can offer the best package? Let’s take a look at five potential landing spots for the ten-time All-Star.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks returned a disappointing and abrupt playoff run with a second-round defeat to the eventual runner-ups, Miami Heat. However, Giannis was injured and the Bucks must feel they are one piece away from making a much deeper run and potentially winning the title.

Thunder Receive: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, future draft capital

Bucks Receive: Chris Paul

This package would see the Thunder receive two veteran point guards that play the role of mentors Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, similar to that of Chris Paul. They’d also get two young role players in Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson, who could certainly develop into solid bench guys at the least.

But how many picks will the Thunder demand to make this trade a reality? Considering they have by far the best player in the trade, the Bucks might have to throw in two future first-round picks to get this over the line.

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Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are the latest NBA champs, but Rob Pelinka is probably already figuring out ways to improve their roster. The somewhat inconsistent performances of their role players might entice LeBron James to try and persuade his GM to trade for Paul, one of his best friends off the floor.

Thunder Receive: Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, 2020 First Round Pick

Lakers Receive: Chris Paul

The veterans in this trade don’t offer much for the Thunder, given the direction they are headed. However, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma are two exciting young prospects that OKC can add to their already-promising young core.

Kuzma’s productivity expectedly dropped off with the addition of Anthony Davis last season, but as a second option behind SGA, he could definitely get back to the 17 PPG scorer he was across his first two years in the league. We haven’t seen much of 19-year-old Horton-Tucker yet, but he had some exciting bursts against Houston in the Conference Semifinals.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers were arguably the biggest disappointment of the 2019-20 campaign, capped off with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. They have one of the worst contracts and fits in the league in Al Horford. If they can move him in a trade for CP3, they will consider themselves the big winners of the offseason. Are Chris Paul and Doc Rivers destined to reunite?

Thunder Receive: Al Horford, Mike Scott, Zhaire Smith, Matisse Thybulle, 2021 First Round Pick

76ers Receive: Chris Paul

Matisse Thybulle showed last season that he can be one of the best defensive guards in this league. Pair him with Lu Dort and OKC has some of the best wing defense in the league. At just 23 years old, the All-Defensive accolades are sure to stack up in the coming years.

While this would be great, we can’t ignore the other main piece in this trade, Al Horford. He has three years and $81 million left on his contract and at 34 years old, leaves much to be desired. If the Thunder are to take on this awful contract, they may demand more than just one future draft pick. CP3 might be the piece to push the 76ers to the next level, so how much of their future are they willing to mortgage?

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are expected to be a top contender in the East this season. Despite this, both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have never shown that they are effective leaders. Chris Paul might not have the success in terms of rings, but he can be the leader to help make the Nets the favorites to win it all.

Thunder Receive: Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, Jarrett Allen

Nets Receive: Chris Paul

Caris LeVert has proved to be an explosive scorer for the Nets and has improved his PPG every season since he entered the league four years ago. OKC was in the bottom-third of the league scoring wise, so LeVert can definitely help them move up the list. Taurean Prince is another solid wing that would improve the Thunder’s depth and Jarrett Allen is just 22 years old and essentially a younger version of Steven Adams.

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns were the surprise story of the NBA bubble. Many wondered why they were invited, but they proved everyone wrong by completing an impeccable 8-0 record in the seeding games. Despite this, they missed out on the playoffs and know they need to make some upgrades if they are to end their 10-year playoff drought. Chris Paul is the perfect veteran to help mentor the likes of Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton. Not to mention, he’ll take some of the ball-handling pressure off of Booker.

Thunder Receive: Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., 2021 First Round Pick, 2022 Second Round Pick

Suns Receive: Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari (via sign-and-trade)

The most exciting asset in this deal for the Thunder is Kelly Oubre. Last season, the 24-year-old averaged 18.7 PPG and 6.4 RPG. Adding this solidifies OKC’s young core and would help improve their subpar offense. Along with this, they’d get the perfect Chris Paul replacement in Ricky Rubio– a veteran point guard that can continue to mentor the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a much cheaper deal.

Which Deal Should OKC Take?

If I’m Sam Presti, I’m entering deeper discussions with Philadelphia or Phoenix. Both of these teams can offer a mix of proven professionals and exciting young talent. More importantly, these are the teams OKC can demand the most future picks from. With an already solid young core in place, building through the draft in years to come might be the best way to further improve this roster.

Follow us on Twitter @ThunderLead for the latest Thunder news and insight.

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About Eshan Arya

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