July 18, 2019 / 1:39 AM / a month ago

NBA notebook: Thunder to keep Paul for now

The Thunder’s discussions to trade newly acquired Chris Paul have stalled, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday, increasing the odds that the point guard begins the season in Oklahoma City.

FILE PHOTO: Jul 8, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) sits next to forward Christian Wood (35) on the bench during an NBA Summer League game against the Chicago Bulls at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder have been working with Paul’s agent on a suitable trade since acquiring him from the Houston Rockets last week in a deal for Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks, but Wojnarowski reports nothing is materializing. The report adds that Oklahoma City believes trade talks could improve after Dec. 15 — when players signed this offseason can be included in deals — or after the 2019-20 season.

The Miami Heat have been widely reported as a potential suitor for Paul, but the sides have been unable to agree on compensation.

The Miami Herald reports the Heat are only willing to take on Paul’s burdensome contract — which has three years and $124 million remaining, including a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22 — if they also receive their own 2021 and 2023 first-round picks, which the Thunder acquired via other trades.

—A day after officially signing him as a free agent, the New York Knicks announced forward Reggie Bullock had surgery in New York for a cervical disc herniation.

The team said the surgery was successful and that an update on his rehab and progress would be provided around the start of training camp.

On Tuesday, SNY reported Bullock was expected to miss at least a month of the regular season with a previously unknown medical issue, which led to a reworking of Bullock’s original two-year, $21 million free agent agreement with the Knicks. Bullock wound up signing for two years and $8.2 million, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

—The Toronto Raptors agreed to a two-year deal with free agent point guard Cameron Payne, The Athletic reported.

Payne, who turns 25 next month, joins his fourth NBA team since the Thunder picked him 14th overall in the 2015 draft out of Murray State.

He split the 2018-19 season with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 6.3 points and 2.7 assists in 40 games (13 starts). Payne has posted career averages of 6.0 points, 2.5 assists and 16.0 minutes in 153 games (28 starts).

—Free agent forward Cheick Diallo agreed to a two-year contract with the Phoenix Suns, ESPN reported.

The 6-foot-9 Diallo became an unrestricted free agent when the New Orleans Pelicans declined to tender him a qualifying offer.

Diallo played in 133 games over the past three seasons for the Pelicans, producing averages of 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds. He averaged 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 64 games (one start) last season.

—Former Suns lottery pick Dragan Bender has agreed to play for CSKA Moscow, Yahoo Sports reported.

Yahoo said that Bender’s agreement allows him to look for NBA deals “for a little while longer,” which matched a story from Eurohoops.net that said the 7-foot-1 forward will sign a multiyear deal with the Russian club unless he receives “an interesting” offer from an NBA team.

The 21-year-old Croatian averaged 5.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 18.0 minutes in 46 games (27 starts) for the Suns in 2018-19.

—The Detroit Pistons claimed center Christian Wood off waivers from the Pelicans, according to The Athletic, two days after New Orleans waived him.

Wood, 23, impressed in an eight-game stint (two starts) with the Pelicans late last season, averaging 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 23.6 minutes per game.

He has career averages of 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game across 51 appearances with four teams since entering the NBA undrafted out of UNLV in 2015.

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