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.
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.