A surprising offseason u-turn forced the OKC Thunder on a new path. With the goal of returning to title contention T.I. dives into all things trade-related.
With Sam Presti still promoting the OKC Thunder replenish and reposition mantra, words like tank or rebuild have yet to enter the GM’s vernacular. This new iteration is committed to being in the mix and for now, we’ll just have to keep the faith.
Much like the Clippers played as a team and pushed the Warriors to six games there could be a similar albeit surprising path for the OKC Thunder this season.
With that in mind, the Thunderous Intentions writing team begins our roundtable series with the initial segment emphasizing the one thing on most fans’ minds — trades!
Do the Thunder trade both Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari? Also, which teams should Presti prioritize as CP3 and Gallo trade destinations and why?
An expiring contract and stated desire for a title will equate to Danilo Gallinari leaving prior to the deadline. The irony, of course, is the Thunder finally have the offensively versatile forward they coveted for years. Consider how teams lined up for the floor spacing Nikola Mirotić last season. Milwaukee overpaid (four, second-round picks) for what ended up being a lackluster 28 (regular and postseason) game rental as he exited this offseason. In Gallo’s case, the bidding wars should be active.
As for Chris Paul, the scuttlebutt is only the Heat are interested but as teams near the deadline, an untimely injury or absence of depth issues could increase interest. The likeliest candidates could be clubs who over excel early such as the Mavericks, Timberwolves or Magic all who could use a point guard upgrade along with the Heat who’ll remain frontrunners. And, watch out for an untimely PG injury to a club like the Sixers who are built to win now.
I do not think CP3 will be moved this season, I think the OKC Thunder will not be able to find a trade partner for Paul until the offseason. Gallinari without question will be dealt on an expiring deal with no plan to re-sign him.
Another reason Gallinari is primed to be traded outside of his expiring contract is that he fits the need of every contender. What contender couldn’t use a stretch forward who can provide a bucket off the bench or in the starting five.
Gun to my head, I’ll say that they trade just Gallo this season. He’s on an expiring contract coming off the best season of his career and he can easily fit into the rotations of at least five projected playoff teams – Sam Presti will be salivating over this opportunity. As for the teams who should come calling, I like his fit with the Milwaukee Bucks. They pulled off a similar kind of move with Nikola Mirtoic last season, and after both Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe totally disappeared during the 2019 playoffs, the Bucks need a reliable scorer like Gallo to pick up the slack. It’s a match made in heaven.
I do not believe that the Thunder will be trading both Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari during this upcoming season. Gallinari makes too much sense as a trade candidate given the fact that he’s a really good player, and is also on a modest expiring deal. Now, on the other hand, Chris Paul is old and has an albatross contract, leading me to believe that teams aren’t chomping at the bit to trade for him.
For possible Chris Paul suitors, I’m looking at the Miami Heat due to them being in “win now” mode and also having a lack of depth at the point guard position. Gallinari is a bit different, I’m looking at the Portland Trail Blazers as a likely suitor for his talents. The Blazers are lacking talent on the wing and Neil Olshey isn’t the type of General Manager to shy away from making these big-time deals.
I think the Thunder look to trade Paul. They give him a platform at the start of the season to get some great numbers so playoff teams are interested. There is still too much of a question mark over his durability for teams to risk that contract. However, a team like the Miami Heat could take it on, depending on where they are by the trade deadline. The Cleveland Cavaliers might also look to get Paul as a mentor.
With regards to Gallinari, I actually hope the Thunder keeps him but due to his expiring contract and the rebuilding nature of the team, it is unlikely he will stick around. Flipping him to an Eastern Conference middle of the road team like the Brooklyn Nets for a younger player would work.
If OKC and Miami are unable to work out something for CP3, I would presume that OKC would hold on to Chris Paul as he still holds great value as a player as well as a trade piece.
Gallinari, on the other hand, poses multiple options for the OKC Thunder’s future. He can either be one of the main scoring pieces or a means to wrestle away young talent from other teams. For example. Gallo with Abdel Nader could potentially be part of a huge deal for rookie forward Rui Hachimura if Ian Mahinmi were thrown into the mix.
Chris Paul could get traded because Shae Alexander is the point guard of the future. Chris Paul is more of a bridge player. The Minnesota Timberwolves could be a destination for Chris Paul.