Since the Houston Rockets made the blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to swap star point guards Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, there have been plenty of questions around the former All-Star point guard’s long-term future as well as how much he has left in the tank. During this process, there has been lingering strong interest from the Miami Heat about possibly trading for Paul.
Rockets needed to move on from Chris Paul
Prior to the massive trade between the Rockets and Thunder, there wasn’t much talk about the two teams discussing a deal. There had been rumblings around the Rockets about the building tension between Paul and James Harden’s deteriorating relationship caused by butting heads on the court more than it was previously let on to believe.
This led to reports surfacing that Paul and Harden’s connection being deemed “unsalvagable.” Although both stars denied that being the case, it had created a tense environment due to the standoffish nature of their dealings with each other.
The lack of communication made it an easier choice for the franchise to move on from Paul, leading them to pair the former league MVP with another star player in the prime of his career who has helped build a new buzz around the franchise. Meanwhile, this puts Paul in a tough spot entering the second year of his four-year, $159.7 million deal on a team that is clearly rebuilding in addition to acquiring additional assets from the trade.
The Thunder have effectively moved both of their All-Stars this offseason due to a lack of playoff success, with Paul now stepping in as the leading factor on the floor.
Heat make big splash with Jimmy Butler
It has been an eventful offseason for the Heat behind a few notable roster moves that were highlighted by the addition of star forward Jimmy Butler on a four-year, $140.7 million max deal in the four-team sign-and-trade involving the Philadelphia 76ers, where the argument could be posed if the team is better off without him.
Miami has their next superstar to lead the way following Dwyane Wade’s retirement. Butler has finally got his desire to be the face of the franchise with the chance to be their driving force for the next several years.
As part of that four-team trade involving Butler, the Heat also moved off big man Hassan Whiteside after years of trade speculation by dealing him to the Portland Trail Blazers. The two sides now get a fresh start as it opens up playing time for promising center Bam Adebayo.
But there is still a bit of an uphill battle to climb in the Eastern Conference, even with Kawhi Leonard heading west to the LA Clippers. This has only fueled the rumor mill with talk of the team’s interest in landing Paul.
Is Chris Paul destined to be Miami bound?
There is some strong mutual interest between Paul and the Heat to work to get a trade worked out. The discussions have hit a hurdle due to Miami being cap-strapped, meaning it would have to be evened out salaries to make it happen.
Nonetheless, the Heat have remained in the picture as a potential landing spot for the 34-year-old. Shams Charania of The Athletic is now reporting that Miami could elect to see how the season unfolds first before putting forth a strong pursuit of the star point guard.
The team does have a few pieces in place that could formulate a deal centering around point guard Goran Dragic’s $19.2 million salary for this upcoming season as the foundation of a trade offer. There are also other intriguing assets such as Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynk, and James Johnson.
Ultimately, the Heat have the pieces in place to hammer out a deal and are in need of a second star to pair alongside Butler. If they hope to take a significant step forward in making noise in the Eastern Conference, the addition of Paul would be a necessary step in that effort.