Once considered impossible, it’s now conceivable all three of the players Oklahoma City received in addition to the draft picks it picked up through deals that sent Paul George to Los Angeles and Russell Westbrook to Houston could eventually play out their contracts in Oklahoma City.
Those three players are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari.
The Thunder see Gilgeous-Alexander as a cornerstone of their future and they have him locked up and under contract through the 2021-2022 season. Presumably, they will want to sign him beyond that season.
Paul’s contract also runs through the next two seasons. A super-max deal, it will pay him $41.359 million next season and $44.211 million the following season.
Conventional wisdom has been Paul’s deal may be too long and too expensive to move. Also, given the Thunder’s success since he arrived, Oklahoma City may not be looking to move him in the coming offseason, or even all of next season.
His contract will become easier for teams to take on in its final season because it will be expiring. Still, it will be more expensive then and, depending where the Thunder and Paul find themselves at that time, he could be too valuable to deal or, conversely, not attractive enough to deal. Paul will turn 37 years old during the 2021-2022 playoffs.
As for Gallinari, his deal runs out at the end of this season and, having not moved before Thursday's trade deadline, the Thunder will have him for the length of his contract.
• Dead money: When the Thunder chose to waive and stretch Kyle Singler two offseasons ago, it made perfect sense.
Nobody wanted him, including Oklahoma City, and he was going to cost them about $5 million dollars in salary and a multiple of that in luxury taxes had they kept him.
It was a no-brainer.
However, that no-brainer remains on the Thunder’s books to this day and will remain through the 2022-23 season.
By employing the stretch provision on Singler’s contract, it's still taking up $999,200 of cap space this season, as well as the next three seasons.
Additionally, Patrick Patterson, now a Los Angeles Clipper, is taking up cap space, too — $737,067 this season, as well as the next two — after being waived and stretched last offseason.
• Ferguson a team guy: Following Wednesday’s victory over Cleveland, coach Billy Donovan explained that having decided to stick with Lu Dort in the starting lineup, he made it a point to speak to Terrance Ferguson, whose old spot Dort had taken, and explain his thinking.
That led to Ferguson, who was back for the first time Wednesday after missing several games for personal reasons, to be asked about it in the postgame locker room.
Speaking after him, Chris Paul, looking out for a teammate, chastised the question. He needn’t have, because Ferguson hand taken the question in stride.
“As long as we win, that’s all I care about,” Ferguson said. “I don’t really care about who’s starting, whether I come off the bench, whether I’m starting, [it] never really mattered to me. I even told Billy … ‘Whatever you think is best, is best for me as well.’”
• LeBron chooses Chris: The two All-Star Game captains, Los Angeles Laker LeBron James and Milwaukee’s Giannis Anteokounmpo, drafted their All-Star teammates on Thursday, with LeBron choosing Thunder point guard Chris Paul.
Also Thursday, Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, already slated to play in the Rising Stars game on Feb. 14 (8 p.m., TNT), was announced to be a participant in the following day’s Skills Challenge (7 p.m., TNT).