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Chris Paul on declining $44M player option to facilitate trade to contender: ‘No chance’

Chris Paul

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 17: Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the game against the Miami Heat on January 17, 2020 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Chris Paul said Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told him he wouldn’t be traded to the Thunder.

Now, Paul is revealing the leadup to that declaration. According to Paul, via Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated, Morey first asked whether Paul wanted to go to Oklahoma City. Paul said no.

Of course, Houston traded Paul to the Thunder, anyway. Immediately, rumors swirled about Oklahoma City flipping Paul. But his age and contract made that difficult.

Paul didn’t decline his $44,211,146 player option for 2021-22 to facilitate a trade to the Heat. However, Miami looked like just a good, not great, team. What if Paul could decline his player option to join a true championship contender?

Paul, via Nadkarni:

“No chance. That’s not happening. Nope.”

I don’t blame Paul. He’ll never get that kind of money again. He might have other opportunities to win a title.

Even if Paul were willing to decline his player option, that wouldn’t automatically mean he gets traded by the deadline.

Paul is earning $38,506,482 this season. That’s not an easy salary to match. Plus, he’s due $41,358,814 next season – an uncomfortably high amount to guarantee a 35-year-old, even one playing as well as Paul this year.

Oklahoma City probably isn’t overeager to move Paul, either. With so much draft capital incoming from the Clippers and Rockets, the Thunder – who are on pace to make the playoffs – can enjoy this moderate success without worrying about undercutting their rebuild.

It’s not the championship everyone wants. But it can be satisfying enough – especially for Paul, who safeguards his $44,211,146.