Chris Paul ranks second, Russell Westbrook third for 2019-20 player salaries

Chris Paul, OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul, OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder shaved two big contracts from the bottom line but still have work ahead with Chris Paul ranking as the second highest NBA player salary of 2019-20.

It’s been a busy few weeks for the OKC Thunder as the team vacillated from contender to rebuilder. One key for General Manager, Sam Presti was lowering overhead which he already was speaking about in his end of season presser.

But, when Paul George demanded a trade that narrative got a kick start. Now almost two weeks later the OKC Thunder have made palpable progress at least in terms of getting out from under the heavy burden of being a repeat luxury tax offender and subsequently costing this small market team a ton of money.

Most of the top contracts for next season (2019-20) belong to the supermax players or this summer’s free agents but there is one OKC Thunder in the mix. To wit, second on the list is none other than the newest player addition to the Thunder – Chris Paul whose slated to make $38,506,482 this coming season.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry sits atop the ladder as the highest paid star pulling in $40,231,758 next year.

Coincidentally, former OKC Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is third on the list with $38,506,482 due to the superstar. Notably, Paul George – the other Thunder superstar who left via trade to the Clippers ranks 18th with $30,560,700 due to him.

After Curry, Paul and Westbrook the players filling out the top 10 on the list are:

Above list as per ESPN.

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What this means for the OKC Thunder is they’ve already managed to get below the luxury cap and will continue to work toward getting below the salary cap altogether. Currently, the OKC Thunder have a cumulative total of $133,827,363 on the books which means they are close to getting under the luxury tax level of $132.627 million.

While there are several ways for Sam Presti to get to that bottom line he has until the very last game played this coming season to do so.

Obviously, Chris Paul will be one of the contracts Presti will look to shop, but for now with so much player movement this offseason the best bet is to wait until December 15th (when players traded this summer can be traded again) or the trade deadline.

In addition, there are other contracts on the Thunder who Presti may decide to jettison. Among those: Dennis Schroder, Andre Roberson, Patrick Patterson, Danilo Gallinari and possibly Patrick Patterson.

Of those five players, there are three who are in their final contract years — Patterson, Roberson, and Gallinari. That fact may point to Presti looking to move this trio since his natural tendency from previous years is to get something in return for players prior to them becoming free agents.

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That said, the priority to move Paul will still take precedence particularly as the point guard wishes to join a contender as the aging star hopes to add a championship ring to his list of career accomplishments.