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.
Spending the remainder of his career on a rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder team cannot be what Chris Paul had in mind.
Paul was traded to OKC on Thursday as part of a shocking deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for a pair of first-round picks and two pick swaps. The Thunder have dealt away Paul George and Westbrook over the last week, accumulated draft picks, and are in clear rebuilding mode. They have no use for an aging point guard like Paul, who would prefer to compete for a championship.
Accordingly, the Thunder are expected to explore trades for CP3, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
Houston hoped to find third-team destination preferable to Chris Paul, but ultimately leaves it OKC to execute next step once Presti confers w/ CP3 agent Leon Rose. Miami remains possibility for Paul (3 years, $124M) — and OKC obviously has picks to incentivize deal, if needed.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2019
Woj mentions the Miami Heat as a potential destination for Paul. That’s the same team the Thunder were talking to about a Westbrook trade.
The biggest impediment to a Paul trade remains his contract. He is owed $124 million over the next three seasons, is already 34, and has chronic hamstring problems. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting him based on the money he is owed.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets agreed to a major trade on Thursday involving Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.
Houston is trading CP3, two first-round draft picks (2024 and 2026) and the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025 to the Thunder for Westbrook, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2019
Shams Charania has the information on the protections for the picks and pick swaps.
Sources: Pick protections in Thunder/Rockets, Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul trade:
2024 first round pick, protected 1-4
2026 first round pick, protected 1-4
2025 swap, 1-20 protected
2021 swap, protected 1-4 — OKC can swap Clippers pick or Heat pick.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 12, 2019
The Thunder became open to trading Westbrook after dealing Paul George to the Clippers, which began the process of them stripping down their team for a rebuild. The Miami Heat were viewed as a top potential destination for Westbrook, but they do not have draft picks to trade and reportedly did not want to include any desirable young players in the deal. That allowed Houston to step in, which had to add in draft pick compensation to make up for OKC taking on Chris Paul’s contract.
Westbrook is due $170 million over the next four seasons, while Paul is owed about $124 million over the next three seasons, including his player option.
The Thunder picked up five first-round draft picks in their trade with the Clippers and have now added two more. Not only will the picks play a role in their ability to rebuild through the draft, but they will also be able to use the future picks in trades to acquire players too.
The trade reunites Westbrook and James Harden. Harden was originally drafted by the Thunder and played three seasons with them before OKC traded him to Houston, where he emerged as a superstar and eventual league MVP.
This trade is an improvement for the Rockets to their current team. Westbrook has dealt with knee issues but is still three years younger than Paul, who has been hampered by constant hamstring problems. Houston was already committed to paying Paul well above his market value for the next three seasons, so paying another guard just as much money is no different to them financially. But they do have a better player now.
The trade also makes it seem like the reports that the Rockets were looking to trade Paul were accurate.
There have been numerous reports since the Houston Rockets were eliminated from the postseason that their two biggest stars, James Harden and Chris Paul, are at odds and no longer want to play together. According to the team’s most respected veteran, that is a bunch of nonsense.
In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic this week, Rockets forward PJ Tucker said talk of a rift between Harden and Paul is “fake news.” He admitted there was arguing after the Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, but he said that happens all the time and no more between Harden and CP3 than other teammates.
“No, but I’m sick of the fake news man. It’s fake,” Tucker said. “Everybody – I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue.
“It was what it was. Everybody’s mad. Everybody’s pissed. You can’t – I’m sick of all the highlight of whoever this person is trying to come up with all this crap, like I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue with each other. Like, I’m the center, focal (point) of the argument because I’m always yelling at somebody and they’re yelling at me. So for me, it’s like ‘If you’re not arguing…’ You don’t think Kobe and Shaq argued? Hakeem (Olajuwon) and…”
Amick pointed out that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal got to the point where they could no longer co-exist, which is why Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat. Tucker would be fine with that as long as a championship comes first.
“If we win a championship together and we f—ing hate each other, then guess what? Who cares? (Laughs) Nobody. Right, so that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Winning a championship. Everything else is failure.”
It’s hard to read anything into an argument after a playoff elimination loss, so those reports may have been overblown. The Western Conference is now wide open with the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and Harden and Paul are both searching for their first championship ring. If you believe what CP3 said recently, the issues do not seem nearly as bad as some people think.
Chris Paul is trying to erase any doubt about his basketball future.
Speaking at his second annual “Go Hoop Day” event on Sunday, the Houston Rockets guard shot down the recent trade noise surrounding him.
“I never asked for a trade,” said Paul, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I never demanded a trade.
“I’ll be in Houston,” he went on. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good … There’s only team that wins at the end of the year, you know what I mean? Since I went to Houston, from Day 1, it’s been about winning games. It’s always about winning games.”
Paul, whose second season in Houston ended with yet another disappointing playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors, has recently been dogged by rumors that he supposedly demanded a trade because of issues with James Harden.
The nine-time All-Star, who turns 35 next year, is owed a staggering $124 million over the next three seasons, and at least one team has declined the opportunity to acquire him. Combined with Paul’s public assertions here, it seems pretty obvious that a trade won’t be happening for a number of reasons.
The New York Knicks have the cap space to acquire Chris Paul, but not the interest, according to a report.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Houston Rockets explored trading Paul to the Knicks, who could absorb his contract. That, combined with other potential moves, could have set the Rockets up for a pursuit of Jimmy Butler. The Knicks, however, were not interested.
The Knicks do want a superstar this summer, but Paul is probably not the sort they’re looking to acquire. The 34-year-old point guard has just shy of $125 million left on his contract, which runs through 2021-22.
The story comes in the midst of reports of Paul demanding to be traded, which he has denied. This is a further hint that, regardless of whether there’s a trade demand or not, the Rockets are at least looking into it and are considering retooling their backcourt around James Harden.
Chris Paul has denied that he made a trade demand to the Houston Rockets, contrary to what was reported on Tuesday.
Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill reported Tuesday that the relationship between CP3 and James Harden is “unsalvageable” and that CP3 demanded a trade. Bleacher Report posted about the report on Instagram, and the Rockets point guard responded in a comment saying “Damn! That’s news to me.”
A screenshot of the Instagram post and Paul’s comment are included in this tweet:
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) June 18, 2019
Even if the report that Paul demanded a trade is inaccurate, there have been a series of reports over the past month saying that CP3 and Harden are clashing. One report even said the Rockets have looked into trading Paul.
If they are able to find a taker — which appears to be the biggest challenge given Paul’s age and contract status (3 years/$124 million left) — the Rockets would probably give strong consideration to making a move.