All-Star guard Chris Paul was the undisputed leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder and their incredible playoff run in 2019-20 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Many so-called experts gave the Thunder a better chance at making a lottery pick than clinching a playoff berth, but Oklahoma City defied the odds and finished with a 44-28 record and as the fifth seed in the loaded Western Conference.
Enter the offseason, it looks as if the Thunder are rebuilding once again.
Paul was shipped to the Phoenix Suns on Monday, where he’ll play alongside one of the league’s most dynamic young scorers in fellow All-Star Devin Booker. The Thunder acquired Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Jalen Lecque, Ty Jerome, and a first-round pick that will be conveyed sometime between 2022 and 2025. It was the second trade that the Thunder agreed to in a span of two days, the first coming Sunday when they agreed to send Dennis Schroder to the Los Angeles Lakers for Danny Green and the 28th pick in Wednesday’s NBA Draft.
Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, the Italian-born player who was drafted by the New York Knicks with the sixth overall pick back in 2008, played his first season with the Thunder last year.
Gallinari told Fox News on Tuesday that he expects Paul to fit in with the Suns.
“Well, I wish Chris Paul the best. He’s my guy. He’s a friend and he’s a great player,” Gallinari said. “I’m sure that he’s going to do well in Phoenix, but where ever he would have gone, he would have been great. I’m sure he’s going to do great for the team. He’s especially going to help all of the young guys that they have in Phoenix.
“When it’s draft time and free agency time every year, especially this year considering COVID and what we have to go through with this situation, it’s going to be crazy. These are some crazy days. So, a lot of changes, a lot of players going from one team to the other. It’s just the beauty of the NBA. And I think it’s exciting and interesting.”
The 32-year-old Gallinari averaged 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game last season for the Thunder. With Oklahoma City suddenly in sell mode, there is a possibility that Gallinari could be on the move as well.