Point guard Chris Paul could be on his way out of Oklahoma City.
As the Thunder continue a rebuild project that began last summer with the trade of Russell Westbrook in exchange for Paul and his massive contract, signs again point to the 10-time NBA All-Star picking up and moving again.
That was only reading the tea leaves before this week.
The tricky part is the two years and $86 million left on Paul’s contract. The Phoenix Suns reportedly have spoken with the Thunder about acquiring Paul, and it’s presumed a two-team swap would force point guard Ricky Rubio and forward Kelly Oubre Jr. as the starting cost, simply because of the required math.
Joining The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday, Paul spoke on the trade talks first reported by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps.
“Man, I’m going into year 16, right?” Paul said. “I’ve heard about every rumor you could possibly hear. You learn to control what you can control.
“I’m training, getting ready for the season. If something happens, it will, if not, I love being in Oklahoma with our team. We actually got a new coach (Mark Daigneault) yesterday. The league is always constantly changing.”
As for Paul saying he can only control what he can control, well, he can actually control quite a bit.
Windhorst said on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta this week that Paul is involved in the trade discussions involving Oklahoma City and Phoenix.
“This is a three-sided trade. This is just as much about the Suns having discussions with Chris Paul as it is with the Thunder,” Windhorst said. “From what I understand, the Suns have been given permission to communicate with Chris Paul and before they get into conversations, they’ve talked about trade pieces, but it’s gotta be Chris Paul that goes to the Thunder and says, ‘Phoenix is where I want to be. Let’s try to make a deal.’
“I know Chris Paul has interest in the Suns. It’s a matter of whether he basically says, ‘this is where I want to go,’ and that’s probably up to Phoenix and Chris to work that out.”
Paul, who averaged 17.6 points and 6.7 assists during an All-Star campaign last year, was booked on Fallon’s show as part of a promotion tour for The Social Change Fund. The organization “was created by philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade to support critical and timely issues impacting the Black community,” according to its website.
Pressed by Fallon, a New York Knicks fan, if Paul could perhaps land in the Big Apple and leave Oklahoma City, Paul laughed it off and said this: “Jimmy, I don’t know. You probably know more than I do.”