Chris Paul Reportedly Wanted Trade to Bucks, Hoped to Play with Giannis

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder explored trades for Chris Paul after the team acquired him in the July deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, though none materialized. And one of the teams Paul reportedly had interest in was the Milwaukee Bucks.

"I had heard he wanted to go to Milwaukee," The Ringer's Ryen Russillo said on Adrian Wojnarowski's The Woj Pod. "Of course you'd want to go play with Giannis."

On the court, Paul would have been a logical fit for the Bucks. His ability to both guide an offense and play off the ball as a spot-up shooter would have paired well with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who often initiates Milwaukee's offense. It would have also given the team another player capable of breaking down a defender and getting off a good look late in the shot clock. 

And having another talented veteran to take some of the postseason scoring and playmaking load off the Greek Freak would have been a plus, especially with persistent questions about whether Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are up to that task. 

But there are other concerns with Paul.

For one, he's 34 years old, and his game could decline shortly. That wouldn't matter if Paul were a one-year rental, but he'll make $38.5 million this season, $41.3 million next year and has a player option for $44.2 million in 2021-22. For a Bucks team that chose against paying the luxury tax this year by letting Malcolm Brogdon walk in free agency, taking on that albatross of a contract was never an option. 

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Plus, Paul has a reputation for being a bit prickly, while Milwaukee has cultivated a strong culture and team chemistry. Antetokounmpo talked about that chemistry after the Bucks' 117-111 win over the Rockets to start the season, per Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"Our chemistry is amazing. I think when the game started, guys weren't able to get in rhythm. My first shot was an airball, Khris (Middleton) had zero points. We weren't playing the best basketball we could play, but at the end of the day we stuck together, we played together.

"As I said, the chemistry is amazing. We've got to keep working on that. You're going to find adversities throughout all the season, but at the end of the day you've got to play together and face moments like this because moments like this make you better."

Winning tends to smooth over any personality clashes, but at the very least, Paul would have brought a new dynamic. Add it all up, and it makes sense the Bucks didn't further explore a deal for Paul.