Since the blockbuster deal that sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder, rumors still continue to circulate around All-Star point guard Chris Paul and his NBA future. With their current roster, Paul and the Thunder are still capable of competing for a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference next season. However, after losing Paul George and Russell Westbrook this summer, multiple signs are pointing out that the Thunder are heading into an inevitable rebuild.
In his recent article, Preston Ellis of Bleacher Report gave his analysis to the NBA’s biggest preseason rumors. When it comes to Chris Paul, Ellis strongly believes that the veteran point guard won’t play a single minute as a Thunder in the 2019-20 NBA season and expects him to be traded to the Miami Heat before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline.
“Moving Chris Paul has long been a source of consternation and anticipation for fans of the Point God. But with his astronomical three years and over $124 million remaining on his contract, how will any team find the motivation, much less the salary, to make it work? The problem goes even deeper. With nearly 40 percent of the league’s players signing deals this summer, many aren’t even eligible to be dealt until Dec. 15. However, one team fits the bill in need and finances: the Miami Heat. Better still, they’ve already shown interest in the 34-year-old.”
In the proposed trade deal by Ellis, the Thunder would be trading Chris Paul and a top-10 protected 2020 first-round pick to the Heat in exchange for Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. For the deal to work under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the Heat would need to add more players to match the Thunder’s outgoing salary. With their goal to maximize Jimmy Butler’s championship window, the deal makes a lot of sense for the Heat.
Chris Paul may have already shown some decline with his performance in the 2018-19 NBA season, but he remains as an elite point guard in the league. Last season, the 34-year-old point guard averaged 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.0 steals while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc. Aside from acquiring a very reliable scoring option next to Butler, the Heat would also receive a future first-round pick from the Thunder as compensation for absorbing Paul’s lucrative contract.
Meanwhile, the potential deal would allow the Thunder to open up a huge chunk of their salary cap space and get out of the luxury tax hell. The Thunder could use Goran Dragic’s expiring contract as a trade chip to acquire a young player or future draft assets before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline.