Dissecting The Jump panel debate: Chris Paul’s OKC Thunder tenure and trade value

OKC Thunder: Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Brian Windhorst and The Jump panel debated the trade value and probable OKC Thunder tenure of Chris Paul offering up three very different opinions. Who’s right?

When Chris Paul was the key part of the OKC Thunder trade package which witnessed Russell Westbrook exit for the Houston Rockets many presumed it would be a short stay for the veteran All-Star point guard. In fact, some pundits presumed Paul would never don an OKC Thunder jersey.

That was until analysts dove into the numbers recognizing the full salary situation. Thunderous Intentions wrote about this situation previously. For those interested in the full explanation click the related story article in the box below.

Related Story. Sam Presti press release on Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul: 3 Key takeaways. light

The condensed version is the CBA doesn’t allow teams to spend above 15 percent of their current salary (minus any other buyouts, i.e. Kyle Singler and Patrick Patterson). Therefore Paul would have to agree to a pay cut of more than half of his salary which – sorry folks – that’s NOT going to happen.

Fueling the belief Paul may be more invested in the OKC Thunder than initial observations is his recent on court sessions with sophomore standout Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Now mind you this could all just be part and parcel of CP3 rebuilding his image after two rather complicated exits (read: trouble with other stars in the locker room) from his past two clubs. Or, the point guard Charles Barkley has repeatedly cited as the best leader in the NBA may simply be reclaiming his ownership of that crown. Either way, it’s all bonuses the Thunder and SGA are currently reaping.

Still, the thinking is it wouldn’t make sense to continue paying the bloated salary of a 34 year old with a history of injuries. That leads logical minds to assess the Thunder will give the vet ample opportunity to showcase his skills are anything but diminished. And, then General Manager Sam Presti will send him to a contending team by the deadline in exchange for assets and picks.

Brian Windhorst and the panel of  The Jump threw that logic out the door. Based on his conversations with league executives Windhorst stated:

"“Here’s what executives expect to happen. They expect the Thunder to put out a message that ‘We’re not looking to trade Chris Paul. We want him here. We want him as part of our unit. We want him to work with our young guys.’ Because they don’t want anybody to think they’re panicked trying to trade him.”"

In other words a bit of smoke and mirrors. Royce Young and Tim MacMahon who were also on The Jump panel on Monday, August 18 had differing viewpoints on the matter (as you can view on the video above). Young’s viewpoint is Presti will stick to his guns and won’t just trade Paul unless there is value coming back in return and it will take a first-round pick at a minimum. Conversely, MacMahon thinks the OKC Thunder would have to give up a pick to send CP3 packing.

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What fans in Oklahoma do know for certain is Presti isn’t one who’ll make a snap decision, he’s more than willing to wait out the storm. Moreover, any team, including contenders, could get hit by an untimely injury to a top-caliber point guard. That would warrant making the trade for Paul viable in order to remain in the mix of teams vying for the gold ball.

Helping this line of thinking is the fact Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are hurt relegating them to miss all or a majority of the season. And, with so much offseason movement the championship is virtually up for grabs. For those who point to the Clippers or Lakers and definitively predict them as hands-down favorites to win the title would seem a bit short-sighted.

All that’s necessary is a glance back at this past year. Entering the 2018-19 season most pundits proclaimed the season over before it began as the Golden State Warriors were head and shoulders above all opponents in terms of the talent pool. In the East, the Celtics were favorites with the Bucks and 76ers listed as potential contenders.

Cut to locker room issues in Boston, keeping Embiid healthy enough to remain on the court, the Bucks flying through the first few playoff rounds without being tested and a Warriors club who experienced the bad luck with injuries all at the worst possible time. All while the Raptors used ‘load management’ on their superstar and built momentum (and chemistry) through each successive round of the postseason. And voila, the gold ball resides North of the border.

Next. How Thunder backcourt duo Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can thrive together. dark

To suggest, league executives aren’t cognizant of the fact history has a funny of repeating itself would be naive. Ultimately, there will be a team or several calling Sam Presti before the deadline. The only question to be answered is who’ll meet the Magician’s asking price?