NBA Trade Rumors: Heat's Enthusiasm for Chris Paul 'Far Below' Russell Westbrook

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2019

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul celebrates with his bench in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

If Chris Paul is hoping to play basketball for the Miami Heat, it doesn't appear he'll be doing so anytime soon.

On Wednesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder had shut down trade talks regarding Paul and were expected to start the season with the veteran point guard.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald followed that report by noting that the Heat had far more interest in Russell Westbrook—who was ultimately traded to the Houston Rockets—when he was on the market than they do in Paul:

It isn't surprising that the Heat would have more interest in Westbrook than Paul. The Rockets star is four years younger and posted superior numbers last season:

  • Westbrook: 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 42.8 percent from the field, 29 percent from three. It was his third straight season averaging a triple-double.
  • Paul: 15.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 41.9 percent from the field, 35.8 percent from three.

There are a few reasons why Paul would still make sense in Miami, however. He's a better perimeter shooter than Westbrook, remains an excellent facilitator and is accustomed to playing with a ball-dominant player in James Harden, which should make it easier for him to adjust to life with Jimmy Butler—another player who likes to be on the ball and initiate the offense. 

He's also under contract for the next three seasons, one year less than Westbrook. 

But oh, that contract. Paul is owed $38.5 million this season, $41.3 million next season and has a $44.2 million player option in the 2021-22 campaign that he will absolutely exercise. It's a huge financial commitment for a 34-year-old who has missed 24 games in each of the last two seasons and saw his 2017-18 postseason cut short by injury, potentially costing the Rockets an NBA title. 

That makes Paul incredibly hard to trade and means teams like the Heat will ask for draft picks to take on that contract.

And as Woj reported: "For now, Oklahoma City doesn't feel a need to surrender draft compensation to unload Paul's contract, sources said. The Thunder want to be competitive and believe that Paul can serve as a mentor to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a second-year guard who's considered the franchise's future playmaker."

Paul doesn't match up to Oklahoma City's timeline. They'll be rebuilding around Gilgeous-Alexander and the slew of draft picks they received in the Westbrook and Paul George trades. He'll be moved eventually. But for now, he's stuck with the Thunder. 

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