Report: Oklahoma City will pursue trade with Heat if Chris Paul wants to join Jimmy Butler
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.
Source, to the @TheAthletic: Chris Paul's agent, Leon Rose, will talk to OKC GM Sam Presti in the coming days to determine what's next. If CP wants to go to Miami to join Jimmy Butler, it's clear there's a deal to be done there. The Thunder would engage and have interest.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 12, 2019
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.