NBA

NBA trade rumors: Bucks ‘highly unlikely’ to pursue Thunder’s Chris Paul this offseason

Every member of the Bucks organization knows the 2020 offseason isn’t just about improving in the hopes of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974. It’s also about showing Giannis Antetokounmpo that Milwaukee is where he should spend the rest of his career.

The reigning MVP isn’t eligible to become a free agent until after the 2020-21 season, but he can sign a five-year supermax extension with the Bucks this year. If he turns down the supermax, Antetokounmpo could play out the season and hit unrestricted free agency in 2021 or inform Milwaukee he is leaving no matter what happens, which would spark plenty of trade rumors.

Antetokounmpo shut down initial speculation about a trade demand after the Heat bounced the Bucks from the playoffs in five games, telling Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, “That’s not happening.” He also sent out a tweet Tuesday thanking Bucks fans and saying he “can’t wait for next season.”

While these comments are a positive development for the Bucks, the front office can’t assume this means Antetokounmpo is set on staying with the only NBA franchise he has ever known. One way to assure Antetokounmpo the Bucks are firmly in win-now mode? Acquire Chris Paul.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported earlier this month that rival teams believe the Bucks will explore trading for the Thunder star. A CP3 deal would be difficult to complete financially because Paul is set to make more than $85 million over the next two seasons, but the 35-year-old would give Milwaukee an All-Star point guard who can shoot, facilitate and defend at a high level. Paul was also the top clutch scorer in the league this past regular season and would provide a huge boost for a Bucks offense that often sputtered when the Heat built a wall in front of Antetokounmpo.

Unfortunately for anyone in Milwaukee hoping to see Paul handle the point guard duties instead of Eric Bledsoe, that dream turning into reality is reportedly “highly unlikely.”

From The Athletic’s Eric Nehm and Sam Amick:

As for the reported prospect of the Bucks pursuing Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul as a possible solution to the roster deficiencies, sources with knowledge of ownership’s thinking said it is highly unlikely. The cost of bringing him aboard — Paul is owed $41.3 million next season and has a player option worth $44.2 million in the 2021-22 campaign — and the potential difficulty of bringing Paul onto a roster already led by a strong personality in Antetokounmpo seems to limit the chances of the Bucks moving to pair the two All-Stars. All indications are that the Bucks would rather look elsewhere.

Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry has told Antetokounmpo he is willing to go into the luxury tax in order to surround him with a top supporting cast, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, so it’s clear the front office is considering roster upgrades. Still, it’s hard to see how Lasry can be completely committed to that idea if money is really part of the reason why Milwaukee won’t call Oklahoma City to discuss Paul.

Antetokounmpo isn’t the type to put his foot down and say he wants Paul or any other player in a Bucks jersey, but he should be paying close attention to how management approaches this offseason. The action (or inaction) could ultimately push him toward a decision on his future.

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