OKC Thunder to straddle rebuild-contend mode with Chris Paul reported to stay

Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (Photo by Jeffrey Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (Photo by Jeffrey Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder are set to begin the season with Chris Paul on the roster after trade talks stalled as per Adrian Wojnarowski. Now the team will navigate the middle ground of rebuilding and contending at the same time.

The OKC Thunder have been sent down a long, windy, and twisty road throughout this offseason. It started as a team set to run it back, then a team destined for a total rebuild with their hopes hanging on the bounce of a few ping pong balls to yet another turn. Can the team actually compete?

The Thunder shipped off Paul George to his hometown Clippers, franchise pillar Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Houston Rockets to team up with long-time friend and former teammate James Harden, and in return the Thunder got a ton of draft picks and a few player assets. Namely Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a few pieces the team can flip in Danilo Gallinari and Chris Paul.

However, as everyone expected Chris Paul to not log a single minute for the Oklahoma City Thunder, after starting his career in the same city (with a different organization), it seems as though yet again the Thunder have changed course.

As Adrian Wojnarowski reported, the OKC Thunder and CP3 are set to begin a new chapter together and have the 34-year-old point guard play for the organization at least for a while.

There is a simple reason the trade talks hit a roadblock: Money.

However, the CP3 dilemma is not solved just yet. While it seems clear Paul will play for the Thunder to start the year, how long will he play in OKC?

There are a few different dates to earmark for a possible Chris Paul departure.

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If the Thunder stick to this plan, the earliest Paul will be dealt is December 15th, when recently signed players this offseason are eligible to be traded. From there, the next date to look at is the eventual NBA Trade deadline on February 6th.

But what if the Thunder do not trade him at all?

The Thunder selected at 23rd (traded down from 21st) during this years NBA Draft, after winning 49 games, and finishing in the 6th seed of the Western Conference.

The Thunder’s current draft pick is top 20 protected, meaning if the Thunder narrowly make the playoffs and fall between picks 15-20, they retain their first-round pick. Even if they lose that selection, they still own the Nuggets first-round pick which is top 10 protected.

The Thunder could push for the playoffs with a core of Gallo, Paul, and Steven Adams to go along with SGA and Terrance Ferguson.

Still, though, the playoffs are unlikely in my opinion and the OKC Thunder are going to deal Chris Paul elsewhere before the 6th of February.

Next. Should the Thunder keep or trade Chris Paul?. dark

The offseason has already been a wild ride, and this season is setting up to have incredible storylines.