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There were rumblings shortly after the Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade that the Thunder were considering keeping Paul in an Oklahoma City uniform.
Those rumblings made zero sense.
Paul is a 34-year-old All-Star-caliber point guard seeking his first championship and carrying a contract with three years and $124 million remaining.
The Thunder have implemented one of the most aggressive rebuilding plans in the history of the game, shipping off their best players for a treasure trove of draft picks to implement as they see fit over the next eight seasons.
These are two things that don’t add up.
Reporter: Thunder looking to deal Paul in short order
And, as it turns out — according to more sober Friday morning reporting — Oklahoma City has no intention of keeping Paul around.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder intend to deal Paul “as soon as they can.”
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) July 12, 2019
Heat appear to be Paul’s likely destination
“The market for Chris Paul is going to be small, but Miami’s at the top of that list,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Friday. “They’d like to try to get that deal done as soon as they can. I was told there are some other teams too that are going to be discussed.
“Their hope in getting this deal done with Chris Paul was that he doesn’t play a game in a Thunder uniform.”
That makes a lot more sense.
Will other suitors emerge?
The Heat were mentioned as potential trade partners in Thursday’s reports and appear to remain the frontrunners. An aging Pat Riley made an aggressive move to get Jimmy Butler on board and would appear to covet another All-Star to play beside him as he seeks to build another winner in short order in Miami.
Paul’s still a difference-making point guard in the league, but his contract is an albatross that will make him difficult to deal to potential suitors that may be otherwise interested.
Until we hear otherwise, Miami appears to be an overwhelming favorite to land the nine-time All-Star. The Thunder already own Miami’s first-round picks in 2021 and 2023, acquired in the deal that sent Paul George to the Clippers.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out if the two sides execute a deal.
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