Thunder Injury Update and Chris Paul Says he Won't Waive his Player Option
In the latest injury news, Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel are questionable for Wednesday's game with the Orlando Magic while Abdel Nader and Terrance Ferguson listed as out. Nader, Adams and Noel are suffering from left ankle sprains, while Ferguson is dealing with personal issues. The silver lining in the Thunder's injury cloud is the fact that the Magic is 27th in paint points averaging 44.8 per game. In Monday's win over the Rockets, Billy Donovan was forced to play Danilo Gallinari at the five when Mike Muscala on the bench. With nobody to clog up the paint, Houston went for 64 in the key.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Chris Paul, he will not waive his $44.2-million player option for 2012-2022 to play for a championship. "No chance. That's not happening. Nope." That’s a pleasant thought, but is it a reality? While we have no reason not to believe what Paul says, but, he is 34, and an O’Brien trophy is the only item missing on his resume.
Paul is exceeding all expectations as a player (points and rebounds per game have increased from last season) and a leader in Oklahoma City (buying suits for all your teammates isn't cheap). He is giving Thunder fans hope (25-19 7th in the west), he’s playing mentor to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Paul is still showing he can even carry major minutes (31.8) in a starting role without needing to load manage. Paul has played in all 44 games this season, Kawhi Leonard (who is six years younger) by comparison has played in 11 fewer games.
The last part of that list is the one to keep in mind. Paul's career is too distinguished to come off the bench playing 12 to 15 minutes a night (if that) to be in a parade. If Paul was only able to play a limited role on a contender, then he should take the money because it would be irresponsible to his family not have that cash in the war chest. Plus, when you've been the one carry (or at least help carry) an organization you don't want to ride coattails. As long as he can still be a factor, then all possibilities should be on the table.
What we have to keep in mind is the Thunder are playing with an uncertain future. Paul says he doesn't know how to do half in half out, and he is just in the moment, and if he gets moved, he'll make adjustments. Paul will be 36 when it comes time to exercise that player option, will he still feel the same in two years? It's hard to see the Thunder looking they way they do now in the time frame. Paul's contract, which is seen as a burden to teams wanting to trade for him, will become a burden to Sam Presti as well, depending on how he envisions building his future rosters.
Whatever happens in the next few days (February 6th is the NBA trade deadline) will give us an indication where Presti's mind is. Till then, I hope you'll continue to enjoy the Thunder's most fun season since 2011-2012.