Barring an unlikely trade, Chris Paul is expected to start his 15th NBA season with the transitioning Oklahoma City Thunder. However, how long he’s in OKC might depend on how the Miami Heat start the season.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Heat have have “a level of interest” in revisiting a trade for Paul, but would only be motivated to trade for him in the immediate future if they hit the ground running with their new roster, which is headlined by their newest addition, Jimmy Butler. Paul and the Heat were first linked after the 34-year-old point guard was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Thunder in July.
If the Heat do start the season strong and restart their pursuit of Paul, they’ll have to find the right mix of contracts to complete the deal, which is easier said than done. Paul is owed $38.5 million for the 2019-20 season, which will be the second-highest salary in the NBA next season.
Assuming the Heat plan to keep Justise Winslow out of trade talks for Paul, any trade for Paul will have to include Goran Dragic and one of James Johnson or Dion Waiters. The Heat will also likely have to include some form of draft compensation if they don’t include a prospect like Bam Adebayo or Tyler Herro in the deal. The only hurdle there is the Thunder already the Heat’s draft picks for 2021 and 2023.
In other words, it’s going to take a lot for the Heat to get Paul out of OKC, but if they believe they can compete in the Eastern Conference with a roster built around Butler and Paul, history tells us that Pat Riley will find a way to get a deal done.