Chris Paul Expected To Begin Season With Thunder As No Trade Materializes

Chris Paul will now likely start next season playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder

Chris Paul will now likely start next season playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Rockets for Chris Paul, and they were expected to re-direct Paul to another team in a trade that adds onto their already historic stockpile of draft assets.

Both sides believe there are benefits to Paul playing out the season with the Thunder.

Instead, the expectation is that Paul, at the very least, will start the season with the Thunder, then either find a trade mid-season or next summer. For now, there's a belief that there could be more success exploring trade scenarios again after December 15 - or even the completion of the 2019-20 season, league sources said.

The trade was a late addition to the NBA's free agency period that saw several stars sign deals with new teams, leaving few teams with the roster and salary cap flexibility to make a move for Paul, who carries with him a contract that has three years and $124 million remaining. Matching the 34-year-old's salary for cap purposes is further complicated by the fact that players who signed new contracts this summer - a substantial portion of the league - can't be traded until December 15. The nine-time NBA All-Star spent the last two seasons alongside James Harden in Houston before the trade.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti welcomes the idea of Paul playing for his franchise this season, and Paul has warmed to the idea of the Thunder as a landing spot for the year based on the organization and a competitive talent level.

Because of that, it's going to be tricky for the Thunder to figure out a deal that works for them and puts Paul in a situation where he can succeed. It promises to be a competitive environment for Paul to play the season.

Chris Paul might be staying in Oklahoma City after all.

A 34-year-old All-Star scheduled to make $38.5 million next season does not fit in with those rebuilding plans.