After months of popping up in trade rumors as one of the most likely teams to make a move for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul, it looks like the Miami Heat might have abandoned their plans to acquire the nine-time All-Star.
On Wednesday, The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor reported on the current state of affairs in Miami, where the Heat are at third place in the Eastern Conference with a 20-8 record and, as pointed out, epitomizing the modern NBA game and its focus on so-called “positionless basketball.” According to O’Connor, the Heat’s lack of reliance on a traditional point guard allows them to expertly play the positionless game, with wingman Jimmy Butler leading the team in assists, and three other players — not just guards — averaging at least four assists per game.
Regarding the Heat’s rumored interest in Paul, O’Connor wrote that Miami came close to acquiring the 34-year-old “relic” during the 2019 offseason on multiple occasions. Per league sources, however, the team’s interest in the veteran point guard is now “extinct,” as the Heat are currently targeting another point guard — New Orleans Pelicans star Jrue Holiday. Recent reports have claimed that the Pelicans are now open to the idea of trading Holiday, and with the Heat emerging as one of his top suitors, O’Connor stressed that he would be a more sensible choice than Paul if Miami chooses to upgrade its point guard rotation.
“Holiday’s off-guard abilities and defensive acumen would make him a better fit on the Heat than a primary playmaker like Paul,” he continued.
Although Paul’s traditional skill set might not mesh with the Heat’s positionless style of play, there may be other reasons why the organization has apparently lost interest in acquiring him before the February trade deadline. As speculated separately by Bleacher Report, the former All-NBA guard will be making more than $40 million per year for the next three seasons, which could hint at the Heat actually being interested but reluctant to trade for him, mainly due to his prohibitive contract. The publication added that the team’s hot start could further prevent them from pulling the trigger on a trade for Paul, as they would likely need to surrender some key veterans to match salaries.
— NBA (@NBA) December 17, 2019
“It’s likely he’ll remain a good player for the next couple of seasons, but the Heat are in need of a difference-making star—not a solid veteran absorbing $40 million-plus of their cap,” Bleacher Report added.
Despite being in his 15th season, Paul has produced decent numbers as a starter for the Thunder, as he is currently averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. While previous reports have suggested that Oklahoma City is looking to ship him to another team before the trade deadline, the latest update from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggests that there is “no belief” within the organization that he will be headed elsewhere at some point during the 2019-20 season.