The Oklahoma City Thunder weren't paid much attention to after their trade for Chris Paul, and while the team won't be playoff contenders if and when the NBA season Inside The Thunder reporter Erik Gee gives his analysis of what he believes would be the ideal starting five for the Thunder in the 2020-21 season.
Read the full transcript below:
Madelyn Burke: The Oklahoma City Thunder currently sit 5th in the Western Conference as the NBA season sets pause but SI's Thunder reporter, Erik Gee, took this hiatus as an opportunity to look to the future. Erik joining me now, I want to know what your ideal starting five for the Thunder looks like next season.
Erik Gee: Well, next season, hopefully, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be your starting point guard. Then you can take Luguentz Dort, who's been starting at three right now,
move him over to the shooting guard to kind of replace Andre Roberson and Terrance Ferguson as that locked down NBA defender because he's got a little bit more offense or a little bit more consistency in his offense than those two guys. If you can get the Danilo Gallinari for a reasonable price, I'd have him move to the small forward. I give Darius Bazley, whose 19-years-old and only one year in the NBA, his opportunity to start at power forward, and since I don't think anybody's going to be taking Steven Adams’ contract, I'd keep him as your starting center.
Madelyn Burke: Now, when you looked at this team at the beginning of this season, a lot of people weren't giving them that much credit after that Chris Paul trade went down, but C.P. kind of showed up and showed some signs of youth and signs of light. I don't see him in your starting lineup for the season going ahead, though. What is your plan for Chris Paul?
Erik Gee: Well, it's not going to be a popular opinion, but I think Sam Presti has to do everything he can to possibly move Chris Paul's contract, especially considering the fact that you're going to see the salary cap shrink next year and it's going to be a lot easier for teams to get into the luxury tax. Also, the Thunder's philosophy is, "do not pay more than what you have to," especially if you're not going to contend for a championship. If they can find somebody like the Knicks or maybe a contender, say, the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, who might be interested in the service of Chris Paul, you might be able to make a deal there.
Now, chances are you're probably not going to get anybody back that I think could help the thunder in that starting five next year, you're going to have to take on some massive salary but if Sam Presti is still looking at this as a young developing team, you hope you can get a couple of draft picks for that trade. The Thunder will have an opportunity to rebuild that. I think with the pieces that they have in place, especially the guys that have been in the system now for about a year, while it may not be fifth in the West, they still think they'll have an opportunity to contend for a playoff spot.
Madelyn Burke: And of course, all of this, a hypothetical as we wait for basketball to return to the corporate air. Erik Gee, thank you so much for the insight.