The Oklahoma City Thunder are having a very hard time finding anyone to take Chris Paul’s contract off their hands.
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, based on conversations with NBA general manager, there is “almost no appetite” around the league to touch Paul’s contract, particularly the $44 million player option in 2021-22. Paul will be 37 years old by the time that deal expires.
Having talked with a few GMs, there is almost no appetite for the final year of CP3's deal. My understanding is the Thunder may have to shovel over several picks to get a team to look at that cap hit. Today, I think he starts the season in OKC. https://t.co/CmxE04TKaa
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) July 15, 2019
The Thunder are running into the same problem the Houston Rockets had: Paul’s contract is nearly untradeable unless the pot is sweetened with extra picks. That runs counter to what Oklahoma City is trying to do, which is stockpile future first-round selections in order to strengthen their rebuild. Ultimately, they’re reportedly open to keeping the point guard, largely because, at this point, they may have no other choice.
James Harden and Chris Paul clearly did not get along well last season with the Houston Rockets, and the issues may have come to a boil after they lost their playoff series to the Golden State Warriors this year. Numerous reports claimed the two superstars had an argument in the locker room after the Rockets were eliminated, but the bickering apparently started on the court.
In a recent episode of his “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed some of what it was that Harden and Paul said to one another during that Golden State series. One exchange had to do with what Windhorst described as a “schematic thing” and an issue with spacing, and Harden wanted none of Paul shouting orders at him.
“Chris barked at James, and James turned to him — this was described to me by a player who was on the court — and he said, ‘With you it’s always f—ing something,'” Windhorst revealed.
As Windhorst noted, both Harden and Paul have had issues with teammates in the past. Still, that particular comment sure seems to indicate Harden had grown tired of playing with CP3, and that is likely why he helped nudge the Rockets in the direction of acquiring Russell Westbrook.
We’ve already heard of several reasons why Harden and Paul clashed, and it’s clear the issues were real even if the Rockets tried to downplay them. We highly doubt the two All-Stars will miss one another.
While Chris Paul has been frequently linked with a move away from Oklahoma City, there are also indications that the Thunder would be comfortable keeping the newly-acquired guard.
According to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, the Thunder would have no problem keeping Paul on board if they can’t find a trade partner and Paul is willing to stay. While his deal is bloated with three years and $124 million remaining, that is still a year less than Russell Westbrook had left.
Paul’s willingness to stay remains somewhat of a question. The 34-year-old has never even played in the NBA Finals, and is running out oftime to find that elusive championship. The reality is that Paul just doesn’t have a ton of potential takers thanks to his contract unless Oklahoma City is willing to sweeten the pot by adding assets, and he may have to settle for playing on a non-contending Thunder team for at least one season.
The Miami Heat have been mentioned as a potential trade destination for Chris Paul, but that reportedly has more to do with the Thunder’s desire to unload him rather than Miami’s interest in acquiring him.
The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported on Saturday that Oklahoma City has not offered anything that would seriously interest Miami.
OKC, to this point, has offered nothing enticing enough to seriously interest Heat in Chris Paul talks. Heat won't close door if that changes, but this is OKC trying to move Paul, not Heat actively pursuing player
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) July 13, 2019
Paul is owed $124 million over the next three seasons. His contract is viewed by many as among the least desirable in the league. The Thunder could attach future draft picks to get someone to take on his contract, but that would defeat the purpose of trading Russell Westbrook to Houston for future picks.
The most likely scenario for both sides might be agreeing to a significant buyout that would allow Paul to move on. Such a deal would spare the Thunder from trading future draft picks while also potentially saving them a little money off the $124 million CP3 is guaranteed.
Jackson reported on Friday that the Heat would need to be overwhelmed by a trade offer from the Thunder to take Paul.
The Miami Heat have frequently been linked as a possibility to take Chris Paul’s contract off Oklahoma City’s hands, but new reporting indicates that possibility is remote.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat will do “due diligence” on Paul, but their interest is not strong and they would have to be “absolutely overwhelmed” to take on the remaining three years and $124 million on his contract. According to Jackson, the Heat would be enticed if the Thunder took on multiple bad contracts while also sending Miami multiple first-round picks. With Oklahoma City more interested in stockpiling draft picks, this possibility appears very unlikely.
The Heat have serious concerns about Paul’s age and ability to stay healthy, and are not interested in spending big sums of money on aging stars.
Indications are the Thunder want to unload Paul, and would like to pass him on to the Heat. With Miami not sounding very interested, that may not be an option at this point.
The Oklahoma City Thunder appear to have no intention of keeping Chris Paul after they acquired him in the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to Houston, and they would like to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
Immediately after the Westbrook-Paul trade was completed on Thursday, reports indicated the Thunder actually tried to find a third team to take CP3 and still want to deal him. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Friday that the Miami Heat are the most obvious suitor in what will be a limited trade market for Paul, and the Thunder are anxious to complete a deal.
Woj saying that Chris Paul to Miami is a deal Oklahoma City is trying to get done as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/gypJq340VQ
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) July 12, 2019
“The market for Chris Paul is going to be small, but Miami’s at the top of that list,” Woj said. “They’d like to try to get that deal done as soon as they can. I was told there are some other teams, too, that are going to be discussed, but their hope in getting this deal done with Chris Paul was that he doesn’t play a game in a Thunder uniform.”
Paul has three years and $124 million remaining on his contract, and he is older than Westbrook and has been injured quite often over the past few seasons. It never made any sense for OKC to replace Westbrook with him, so they must have been confident they will find a new home for him when they made the trade with the Rockets. That new home will likely be in Miami alongside Jimmy Butler.
Paul could have one very interesting dilemma if he winds up with the Heat, but that’s not going to stand in the way of a deal.
Chris Paul’s NBA future is suddenly up in the air, and one potential suitor would have to navigate an interesting concern if Paul lands with them.
The former All-Star was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in the Houston Rockets’ blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook. Immediately, reports surfaced that OKC would be open to moving Paul with the Miami Heat, who tried to trade for Westbrook, being listed as a possible landing spot.
In light of the Heat rumors, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel noted the concern: Paul could not be CP3 anymore if he ends up on the Heat.
Could Chris Paul still be CP3 if three is not available?
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 12, 2019
The No. 3 jersey, which Paul has worn all throughout his 14-year NBA career and even dating back to his days at Wake Forest, obviously belonged to Paul’s close friend Dwyane Wade in Miami and will soon be officially retired. Even the No. 13 jersey, which Paul wore on the national stage for USA Basketball, is already taken by Heat center Bam Adebayo.
Of course, there are plenty of other concerns for the Heat in trading for Paul — he is 34 years old, very injury-prone, on a badly-bloated contract, and doesn’t exactly fit their timeline. But if he does land in Miami, it will be interesting to see what new jersey number he ultimately chooses instead.