NBA

Chris Paul won't waive $44.2m player option for trade to contender

By Sports Desk January 21, 2020

Chris Paul is adamant he will not waive the final year of his contract to be traded to a contender for the NBA championship.

The Houston Rockets sent Paul, first-round picks for 2024 and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Russell Westbrook in the offseason.

It was expected the Thunder, who gained more draft capital and the promising Shai Gilgeous-Alexander by letting Paul George team up with Kawhi Leonard at the Los Angeles Clippers, would quickly look to move the nine-time All-Star on.

However, Paul has remained in Oklahoma City and led them to a 25-19 record – their latest match a 112-107 triumph over the Rockets at Toyota Center – making them surprise playoff contenders in the Western Conference.

Paul's $44.2million player option for the 2021-22 season is seen as a major obstacle in potential trade talks, but the 15-year point guard has no plan to give it up in pursuit of a ring.

"No chance. That's not happening. Nope," Paul told Sports Illustrated.

He continued: "People always try to tell your story. I'm just in the moment. If something happens and I get moved, I'll make adjustments. For now, I get to hoop. I get to play. My body feels good. I'm excited.

"I am without my wife and my kids, and when I get to practice, I'm excited to be there. I know we're going to compete. We have a fun team. That's all you want. A chance and an opportunity to compete.

"I guess I'm just different. Analytics may say this, the odds may say this. When the ball goes up that night, I think we have a chance to win."

Paul was surprised by the speed of his trade from the Rockets and the Thunder intend to do all they can to ensure he is happy with his next location if it comes to him being moved on.

"Outside of the immediate aftermath of when we initially traded for Chris, we haven't talked at all about the future or felt we needed to," said OKC general manager Sam Presti.

"Given that the trade happened so quickly for him and took him off guard, we thought it was important to build some trust, some rapport, and approach things collaboratively with his representation to see where his head was with respect to the situation with us. He never flinched, and that gave us confidence.

"His professionalism, his outlook, and his maturity have been on another level. We are going through a transition ourselves, so it's somewhat poetic, how he has returned at this point in the organisational timeline, and how he's elevated our team.

"All I can say is that Chris has been all we could have hoped for and more."

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