Chris Paul was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook last week in a trade that nearly caused the internet to explode, but it still isn’t clear where Paul will be on opening night next season.
The Miami Heat have been rumored as a possible landing spot for the former Houston Rockets point guard, but that would entail taking on Paul’s enormous contract. Paul, 34, is owed roughly $124 million over the next three seasons.
So yes, the Heat will need some incentive to take on that hefty contract, and it appears they’re asking for just that. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst appeared on “SportsCenter” Monday night, reporting that Miami is Paul’s preferred destination. One catch — they want their picks back. OKC holds two of Miami’s future first-round selections and, according to Windhorst, the Heat want those included in a potential deal.
“When you talk about him potentially going to the Miami Heat, which is his preference, one thing I’ve been told in the talks; the fact that the Thunder hold the two of the Heat’s first-round picks in the future — unprotected 2021, protected 2023 — makes this a difficult conversation because the Heat want those picks back,” Windhorst said. “The Thunder have expressed an interest in giving one of those picks back but they would want another pick farther off into the future. So I do think that these teams have a lot to talk about.”
OKC has no shortage of assets. Since draft night, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has acquired a remarkable eight first-round picks. It’s understandable that Miami wants its own picks back, but there are plenty of options in these negotiations. If Paul ends up in South Beach, he’ll likely have first-rounders coming with him, whether they were previously owned by Miami or not.