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All the money in the world can’t buy Chris Paul out of purgatory

Last night, during Oklahoma City’s comeback win from a 26-point deficit against the Bulls, Chris Paul had a classic Chris Paul game: 

  • 30 points, 9 of 12 shooting, 6 of 8 from 3, 10 rebounds, eight assists 

At 34, the Point God, injuries be damned, is aging like a nice Sauvignon Blanc. What he’s missing these days in athleticism he’s gained in world-class basketball intelligence, the quick-thinking ability that pounces on something as minuscule as …  an untucked jersey.

He should be helping a title contender march toward glory. Instead, he’s playing for a team backing itself away from the competitive soup.

So, why hasn’t he been traded yet, and why is it unlikely he’ll be traded this season at all?

He’s too paid: 

2019-20 salary: $38.5 million

2020-21 salary: $41.3 million

2021-22 salary, a player option: $44.2 million

In a vacuum, a team like Miami would scoop him up in a second. In real life, he’s a victim of his own capitalism. Here’s Woj, on Paul’s future:

“There is no belief in Oklahoma City or even in the CP3 camp that there’s going to be a trade for him. After the season? Another year off of that giant contract? Maybe. He’s played well for them, but $40 million-plus?”

When one of the best players of the last 20 years is forced to live his extended prime in basketball purgatory, it is no good for any fan of the NBA.

One solution, via Bill Simmons, is to knock down the percentage amount, from 75 to 50, of salary the theoretical team trading for Chris Paul must match:

“So if I’m trading for Chris Paul, I only need to give up 50 percent of his salary. So if Minnesota wanted him, just trade Jeff Teague ($19 million salary) and a first-round pick, I have Chris Paul.”

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