Other teams are kicking the tires a Paul deal (Minnesota has come up as a rumor, although CP3 is expensive and not exactly on Karl-Anthony Towns‘ career timeline), but nothing much has emerged. For Miami and OKC it becomes about leverage, which brings us to a Tweet from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Per league source, Heat doing due diligence on Chris Paul, but there is no aggressive pursuit on Heat's part, unlike efforts to get Westbrook before his trade yesterday
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) July 12, 2019
This sounds a lot like the Heat wanting to look like a team willing to walk away from a deal to gain leverage, so they leak this to a team-friendly source.
The challenges in a Heat/Thunder trade are these: Oklahoma City remains $3.7 million into the luxury tax and, understandably, does not want to pay that for a rebuilding team. They want to take back less salary than they send out. Miami, however, is hard-capped at just more than $138 million after the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade and they are bumping up against that number and cannot take on more salary in a trade. A third team may need to come into play.
Beyond that, Paul is not Russell Westbrook at this point in his career, CP3 showed signs of decline last season (although he is still the best floor general in the game and averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 assists per game). Houston had to throw picks at Oklahoma City to get the Westbrook trade made, but with Paul teams may ask for one or more of OKC’s picks to take on CP3’s salary (three years, $124 million).
Paul is going to get traded before the season, the Thunder and Paul’s agent are working together on this. Where and when are the questions, this is not a simple trade. Miami may still be the most likely destination, but both sides are clearly looking for a little leverage.