The Oklahoma City Thunder owes Chris Paul $85,000,000 over the next two seasons. And Paul says there is no way he's opting out of that deal to join a super team.
Those words come from a Sports Illustrated article back in January. Since then, a lot has happened to Paul and in the NBA.
For one, Paul had to help the association restart after a pandemic forced them to shut down for five and a half months. For another, the salary cap will go through significant changes, forcing all teams to reconsider how they do business while pursuing a championship.
According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, even with there being cap uncertainty, the Thunder is in good shape. Marks says the Thunder will be $25,000,000 under the luxury tax for the upcoming season.
With that flexibility, Sam Presti may choose to keep Paul instead of unloading his contract, which was deemed as toxic 14 months ago when he came to Oklahoma City in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
"The regular season and playoffs demonstrated that Oklahoma City does not have to move off the $85 million owed to Paul for the next two seasons."... "Instead, the Thunder can keep him because of his play on the court and also because of how they have balanced their finances."
Paul's future depends on if he wants to chase a ring. If he asks for a trade, Presti could also be inclined to deal Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams, both of who have expiring contracts.
If Paul wants to stay, then Presti will most likely offer extensions Adams and Schroder to keep his core together; he may also re-up Danilo Gallinari and use some of his bevy of draft picks to trade for wing help.
The thing to remember is Paul is 35, and despite only sitting out one game this season, father time is undefeated, and even with him being valuable on the court and in leadership, $85,000,000 is an awful lot to pay an aging star.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.