The Miami Heat were reportedly hopeful suitors for Russell Westbrook after it became clear the Thunder star was going to be traded following their shocking deal to send Paul George to the Clippers.
On Thursday, reports emerged that the two sides had reached a bit of a stalemate over the young players OKC would get in return, and hours later, Westbrook had been traded to the Rockets in a stunner. In return, the Thunder got more picks and Chris Paul, who one would expect not to want to stick around in Oklahoma City during a rebuild. Initially, there was a report that the Thunder planned for Paul to play with them, but quickly it became clear that was, at best, wishful thinking and, more likely, a leverage play to keep it from seeming like dumping Paul off somewhere else was inevitable.
And yet, that does sound like the inevitable conclusion to what figures to be a brief run in Oklahoma City for Paul. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the deal could be built out into a three-teamer, with Miami as the likely third team to take on Paul. Sam Amick of The Athletic likewise reports a deal could very easily get done with the Heat, should Paul push for that to be the case.
As Ramona Shelburne noted early on, the Thunder recently had to work on a similar exit strategy with Leon Rose, who represents Carmelo Anthony, so there is rapport between the camps.
It would be a fairly funny end to a musical chairs of sorts involving the Heat, Thunder, and Rockets. Houston had plans on pairing Butler with Paul and James Harden, but Jimmy opted for Miami. Then the Heat had their eyes on Westbrook, who apparently preferred Houston. Ultimately, the Thunder can be the facilitator for both to still come out with someone in all of this, and have plenty of assets to sweeten the pot for Miami in taking on the Paul contract for, say, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow.