A New York Times report suggests that the Milwaukee Bucks may explore swinging a deal for veteran superstar guard Chris Paul this offseason.
The Milwaukee Bucks‘ 2019-20 season has completed and the rumor mill is already churning.
No, it’s not surrounding their superstar and soon-to-be two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who shut down any and all trade speculation following the Bucks’ Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat Tuesday night. Instead, it’s trade speculation of a different kind focused on how the Bucks can make good on their championship aspirations and this current title window.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported Tuesday night that rival executives around the league expect the Bucks to inquire about swinging a deal for veteran superstar guard Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder at some point this offseason.
Likewise, in an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that “Paul to Milwaukee is going to become a conversation.”
Of course, we don’t know when this offseason will actually occur as the league and the National Basketball Players Assocation, whom Paul is coincidentally the president of, have reportedly pushed back the original dates of this year’s draft and free agency following the end of the restarted season.
Still, this predicted pursuit is noteworthy for a couple of reasons as it all reignites some form of speculation that Paul would have been a logical trade candidate for the Bucks last summer before he was eventually dealt to the Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
That came with no credible links or sources for a few reasons, not the least of which being the massive salary it costs to take on Paul in any deal. After all, Paul will be in the third year of his four-year, $159 million deal, which he had signed with the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2018, and will be owed $41.3 million for the 20-21 season alone.
As Stein himself noted, Paul’s salary will immediately cause complications, even for a Bucks team that has most of their core locked in on at long-term deals, but has very few cost-controlled deals to make a trade package viably work. Add on a surplus of depth contributors hitting free agency this offseason and it makes a proposal that much harder.
Despite his lucrative deal and all of the criticism he has endured since signing it, Paul showed this year with the Thunder just how superb of a player he is and continues to be at 35 years old. The future Hall of Famer was at the center of the Thunder’s surprising season and averaged 17.6 points on .489/.365/.907 shooting splits, 6.7 assists, 5 rebounds and 1.6 steals across 70 appearances this year.
But it seems as though Paul’s stay in Oklahoma City may be temporary, just as many expected it to be upon his arrival more than a year ago. In interesting timing, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Thunder and head coach Billy Donovan mutually parted ways Tuesday night, which was made official made by the team last night, after both sides couldn’t agree to a new contract following the end to their season.
As Woj noted in his report, the uncertainty over the Thunder’s long-term direction and coming to terms with their impending rebuild was a central point in why Donovan is a free agent:
“With reduced league revenues amid the pandemic, there remains uncertainty about how long the Thunder will continue with key veterans in place before changing course on being in playoff contention in the Western Conference.”
Paul is undoubtedly impacted by that uncertainty and if and when the Thunder make their intentions known to other teams, he will attract many trade suitors, with many of those likely being title contenders such as the Bucks.
Whether the Bucks can indeed pull off such a move remains to be seen, but with this being the first reported link between the two parties, the discussion of whether to swing big for Paul will be a heavily talked about storyline this Bucks offseason.