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Evaluating a Heat-Chris Paul trade from every angle (it's mostly about the picks)

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

So where do the Miami Heat stand with Chris Paul? As casual spectators, while waiting to see what might come their way.

Unlike the team's pursuit of Russell Westbrook, when Pat Riley and his front-office staff negotiated with a proactive approach, the Heat have taken a more reserved methodology with the Oklahoma City Thunder's potential desire to move off Paul's contract, an NBA source told the Sun Sentinel.

With Westbrook traded from the Thunder to the Houston Rockets for Paul, the Thunder find themselves on a different trade track. This time, moving off such an extensive contract seemingly will require concessions of their own.

At this point, just as the Thunder wanted more in terms of prospects from the Heat for Westbrook, the Heat are seeking more than Oklahoma City is offering to offload a Paul contract that will pay the 34-year-old point guard $38.5 million this coming season, $41.4 million in 2020-21, with a player option of $44.2 million in 2021-22.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst addressed the subject on a SportsCenter appearance.

"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," he 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."

The factors at play:

2021 free agency: An acquisition of Paul in addition to the free-agent contract given earlier this month to Jimmy Butler that pays $36 million in 2021-22 effectively would put the Heat out of play for a max-level 2021 free agent.

Greater clarity on the Heat's approach to 2021 could come into focus next week, when Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will become eligible for a three-year, $111 million extension that would carry him past his 2021 free agency.

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