(via Sports Illustrated)

Chris Paul has helped lead the Thunder to a respectable 33-22 record in the West this season.

After his dramatic exit from Houston, Paul’s reputation took a major hit in the eyes of the NBA community. This season, he is doing his best to mend that. As the leader of the team, both on the floor and in the locker room, he should be credited (at least partially) for their surprising run.

But is his time in Oklahoma City coming to an end?

According to Preston Ellis of Bleacher Report, the veteran point guard is still a major trade candidate for the 2020 offseason.

“At nearly 35 years old, Paul should move to a contender to try to reach that elusive NBA Finals appearance. Matching salaries remains the roadblock, and it’s a sizable one. Chris Paul will earn $41.4 million in 2020-21. Few teams can approach that number with matching and disposable contracts that won’t cripple OKC’s books for years to come. Sign-and-trades can help this summer, and that’s why the opening hours of free agency will be the most critical for Paul. Thunder general manager Sam Presti and Paul’s camp will have to get creative. Still, it seems likely they’ll find a way to leave the negotiating table satisfied.”

As good as Paul has been, his expensive contract is limiting the team’s options as far as bringing in other talents. Approaching 35-years-old, there is no telling how quickly he will decline. He’s averaging 17.4 points and a career-low 6.7 assists per game.

If you’re the Thunder, why not trade him while his value is still high?

If they can find a way to clear his contract off the books while bringing in some younger guy in the process, you can expect the Thunder to seriously consider waving goodbye to their veteran guard.

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