We’re all starting to love Chris Paul, aren’t we? From his positive, winning impact on the team, to digging deep in the rule book to get technical fouls called on opponents, the CP3 show is becoming a nightly must-watch.
There were mixed feelings on Paul when he came over from the Houston Rockets this summer. There were the fans that were mad, then you had those who appreciated the bigger picture and the picks attached to him. But no way was CP3 worth what he’s making any more, was he?
OKC isn’t losing anything by having him on the roster. They’re only $921K over the tax line. They could easily duck under that if they so choose with a small deal, and that would most likely be accomplished in a trade involving Danilo Gallinari. OKC is not in a hurry to deal Paul, and waiting out the market could prove beneficial.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at CP3 and see what his trade stock may look like going forward.
About that contract
Let’s start out with the obvious: Paul has a big contract. In fact it’s one of the largest in NBA history. So trading him is going to be no easy feat considering the numbers:
2019/20 – $38,506,482
2020/21 – $41,358,814
2021/22 – $44,211,146
As you can see, these are very large numbers that OKC is working with. Although the 2021/22 season the contract is a player option, you can almost guarantee he opts in. He will be 36 years old by then.
Paul has shown value to OKC this season, but at those numbers, it’s just going to make a trade tough. Again, he is not hurting being on the roster, he’s actually been a tremendous help. Paul has shown to be a great locker room presence and instrumental in helping the young guys. He’s taken Darius Bazley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander under his wing. He says both of them are like his little brothers.
You have to weigh the risk versus the reward in applying assets to get out from under Paul’s deal. Which brings us to the interesting alternative: is OKC willing to take on unwanted salary? The answer to that question could determine the difference between what we think Sam Presti will do and what he will actually do.
Paul’s on-court value
The consensus leans towards him staying in OKC this season. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since he’s been a team-player and hasn’t whined about being traded to a rebuilding project. Paul has been key to what OKC is doing this season. His mentor role has gone very well and both players and coaches have spoken highly of him. But that doesn’t move his value much when it comes to trading him.
His stat line is pretty average; nothing pops out that makes you go “wow” but nothing negative sticks out, either. He’s simply playing decent basketball right now. He does a lot of positive things in his role which makes him a good fit for this team in the moment.
Paul would have to return into the CP3 that was a matchup nightmare to drum up any trade value soon.
If not now, when?
The summer will be the best time for OKC to try and trade Paul. The free agent market is as weak as it’s been in years, and teams who fill they need one more piece could look to Paul. But there will also be teams dumping salary for the 2021 free agent class so it’s a tricky scenario.
It will come down to what OKC is willing to attach to entice a team to take that contract on. That could possibly be the Miami Heat, who have explored the possibility in the past. Could OKC part with the pick swaps they have with Miami or attach a first round pick or additional compensation?
The package won’t figure to be big, but what they would be trying to accomplish is clearing the cap sheet in the coming years. They would be creating flexibility to use their abundance of picks to get another star to OKC.
Predicting a trade
I am going to go out on a limb here. I don’t think CP3 will be traded until next summer. I think he plays out this season and all of next season in OKC. 2021/22 will be the last year of his deal and I see a team that strikes out in a deep free agency class taking a gamble on him.
There will be multiple teams that clear their cap out to get a top name, and there will be teams who don’t accomplish that. Those latter teams will need to look to fill that void elsewhere and that’s when Presti will work his magic.
But, you could probably just toss that idea out, too. Whatever I say, you say or anyone says, Presti works in silence. His moves are rarely talked about beforehand. They just come out of nowhere with no rumors or anything attached to them.
So let’s keep taking our guesses and maybe one of them will pan out. Until then let’s enjoy what CP3 is doing with this young team. He looks happy playing the big brother role, and he’s also gained the respect of many OKC fans.