Oklahoma City Thunder Future Outlook

(From Google Image Search "Chris Paul")

After discussing what the lottery teams are going to be facing going into the future, it's now time to discuss the postseason teams prematurely. However, I feel that doing this now also explains a bit about what is possibly at stake for teams. Will the Bucks' results actually affect Giannis' decision? If Philly fails, do they trade Embiid or Simmons? Does the small-ball experiment in Houston actually work? All of these are examples for the remaining NBA teams (and the Warriors, who likely will return next season to a much better standard of basketball) and why their future will be impacted by the playoffs.

The Thunder weren't supposed to do much in the 2020 season. After trading away Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and only bringing back Chris Paul, draft picks and a bunch of trade fillers, things looked pretty dim in Oklahoma. Sam Presti seemed like he would be searching for a new job soon after failing to keep his superstars happy enough to stay, not just the aforementioned two but Kevin Durant as well. Now that the Thunder have found success this season with a 36-22 record at this point (already about 10 wins better than I expected), things are looking really good for them not only this season, but in the short and long-term future. Let's look closer at what that entails.

WHO'S GONE: F Danilo Gallinari, C Nerlens Noel, G/F Andre Roberson, F/C Mike Muscala?

The Thunder have G Hamidou Diallo, F Abdel Nader and wing Deonte Burton on very club-friendly options, so they will all likely be coming back in 2021. Muscala is a bit more uncertain, because he does have a player option at about $2.5 million, but I'm not sure if he would be able to get much more elsewhere and be in a better situation. As for the true free agents, Gallinari is obviously the big one. He's likely ending his last big contract, and the Thunder probably know that and won't bring him back on either a long-term and high dollar deal, probably either one or the other. Noel earned himself back into the conversation as a valuable asset after being "bust worthy" to this point in his career and should get a decent pay day. Roberson could be worth a minimum flier, but he hasn't played since the 2018 season so he will need to prove he is healthy. Also expect the Thunder to sign two-way player Luguentz Dort to a full contract next season, or maybe even later this year, since he has started in 15 games.


C-Steven Adams

PF-Abdel Nader, Isaiah Roby

SF-Terrance Ferguson, Darius Bazley, Deonte Burton

SG-Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo

PG-Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder

The Thunder have only 14 players under contract currently, so these are the 10 who will remain. Three are club option players like I mentioned, but all of them should return. The only substantial contracts beyond 2021 are Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander, who are the two best players on this team. These are a lot of young players surrounding Paul, and after adding in all of the future draft picks this franchise has, the future looks good.


I'm sure Chris Paul wants to win a championship, or even make the NBA Finals, but that shouldn't be a reason for the Thunder to push hard right away for one. They can go the same route with Westbrook and Durant 10 years ago, even though Gilgeous-Alexander and TBA are not quite on that level at this point. Keeping Schroder around for approximately his current contract after next season will be feasible, and they will also be able to afford to pay Gilgeous-Alexander since Chris Paul's massive contract comes off of the books at the same time. They are set up for success in the long-term, no matter what happens in this postseason. The post-Westbrook era is already a success in Oklahoma City.