A few days after sending Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder engaged in another blockbuster deal involving the face of the franchise, Russell Westbrook. According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young of ESPN, the Thunder have agreed to trade Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026, both protected Nos. 1-4), and two pick swaps (2021 and 2025).
The deal will enable the Rockets to replace Chris Paul with a younger point guard, Russell Westbrook, that could help them extend the championship window of James Harden. Westbrook no longer needs to familiarize himself with Harden since they were teammates in Oklahoma City for three consecutive seasons. With Harden being considered the main man in Houston, Westbrook will be needing to make a huge adjustment with his game, especially on the offensive end of the floor.
Meanwhile, the blockbuster trade will give the Thunder a nine-time NBA All-Star, Chris Paul, as their new starting point guard. However, with the Thunder heading into an inevitable rebuild, Paul, 34, clearly doesn’t fit with the team’s long-term plan. As ESPN noted, Thunder General Manager Sam Presti is currently having discussions with Paul’s agents, Leon Rose and Steven Heumann of CAA Sports, regarding the possibility of sending the veteran point guard to a team who is willing to absorb the three years and $124 million left on his contract.
“Presti already is working with Paul’s agents at CAA Sports — Leon Rose and Steven Heumann — to redirect the nine-time All-Star to a new team, league sources tell ESPN. The Heat are prominent in the conversations, but there are other possibilities also being explored, sources said. Presti and Rose worked together last year on a similar situation with Carmelo Anthony.”
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) July 12, 2019
Though the Russell Westbrook-to-Heat trade failed to materialize, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed in a Twitter post that Miami “remains a possibility” to become Chris Paul’s next landing spot. However, to strengthen their chance of convincing the Heat or other NBA teams to make a deal, the Thunder may need to sacrifice at least one of their future draft picks.
If the Thunder won’t ask much in return, trading for Chris Paul makes a lot of sense for the Heat. Paul may already be on the downside of his NBA career, but he still has lots of gas left in his tank. Last season, Paul averaged 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.0 steals on 41.9 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Pairing him with Jimmy Butler will give the Heat a better chance of competing against powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference next season.