Chris Paul Trade Rumors: Execs Believe Thunder Don't Want to Appear in a Panic

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2019

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

As the Oklahoma City Thunder explore the market for nine-time All-Star Chris Paul, they are reportedly doing their best to maintain their leverage. 

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, OKC wants to give opposing teams the impression that it is not desperate to force a Paul trade and is willing to keep him on the roster moving forward:

"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 a part of our unit. We want him to work with our young guys. Because they don't want anybody to think they're panic-trying to trade him. And they want to hope that somebody has something happen where they need Chris Paul."

Paul was acquired from Houston last month as part of the trade for 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook that also netted the Rockets a pair of first-round picks. The 34-year-old has two years and $79.9 million remaining on his contract, as well as a $44.2 million player option for 2021-22.

As OKC stockpiled future draft assets in the Westbrook and Paul George trades, it was widely expected Paul would be shopped. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in the aftermath of the Rockets trade that the Thunder wanted to move the veteran point guard "as soon as they can."

Oklahoma City reportedly discussed Paul with the Miami Heat, but those trade talks did not lead to a deal. As a result, Wojnarowski reported the expectation is Paul will open the season in a Thunder uniform.

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Bleacher Report's Ken Berger reported last month that Oklahoma City is open to keeping Paul if he is on board with the plan.

At this point in the league year, finding a team that can absorb Paul's contract would not be easy. The market figures to be limited, potentially forcing the Thunder to wait until at least Dec. 15 (when players who signed as free agents this summer can be traded) to look for a trade partner.

For now, it appears as though OKC will remain patient.