Thunder news: Oklahoma City will pursue trade with Heat if Chris Paul wants to join Jimmy Butler
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Report: Oklahoma City will pursue trade with Heat if Chris Paul wants to join Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul

Chris Paul, unsurprisingly, may not be with the Oklahoma City Thunder for long. In fact, the future Hall-of-Famer’s next team, at least if he has interest in playing for them, might already be known.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Thunder are prepared to engage in trade discussions with the Miami Heat if Paul signs off on taking his talents to South Beach to play with Jimmy Butler.

All indications since last weekend’s stunning trade of Paul George to the LA Clippers was that Russell Westbrook was the superstar player most likely to be dealt to the Heat. As recently as Thursday morning, multiple reports suggested Westbrook had warmed to the idea of continuing his career in Miami, too.

But shockwaves were sent through the league again on Thursday night, when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Houston Rockets agreed to trade Paul to the Thunder in exchange for Westbrook, two future first-round picks, and two pick swaps. Like Westbrook, it’s assumed Paul would be uncomfortable at this stage of his career playing for a team without realistic championship aspirations, leading to immediate speculation he was likely to be traded again.

Miami’s path toward legitimate contention going forward is murky. Pat Riley only has so many assets left to trade for a true impact player, and would surely rather keep the Heat’s books clean for 2020-21 rather than take on long-term salary. But Butler is already 29, and Paul has a player option for the 2021-22 season, one it’s not crazy to submit he might decline in favor of chasing an elusive championship ring – one he’d be extremely unlikely to win in Miami with Butler.

Stay tuned. More moves are coming in the wildest of NBA offseasons.