OKC Thunder stalled Chris Paul trade talks as Heat wanted draft picks back

Chris Paul, OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul, OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder will need to exercise patience regarding any trades for point guard Chris Paul given his age and massive contract.

News out of Miami notes while the Heat was still interested in working with the OKC Thunder to trade for Chris Paul the trade package was far less appealing than what they offered for Russell Westbrook.

The most recent news indicates the Thunder expect to start the season with Paul on the floor. Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed this sentiment and stated this stance was likely tied to a lack of quality offers.

This isn’t exactly shocking given how quickly teams moved to sign free agents this season. It’s left most squads without the available funds to entertain large contracts. And, as I noted in a previous article since teams can only spend up to 15 percent of their overall salary to buyout or waive a player it doesn’t leave the Thunder and Chris Paul with that option unless the point guard is willing to cut his $124+ million salary in half, which is doubtful.

Following up on Woj’s tweet another tweet from Heat beat writer Barry Jackson offered additional insight into where the Heat sits on the matter. Since they don’t have draft picks to play with it seems any deal to land Paul would be tied to Miami getting back those picks which were sent to the Clippers initially and ended up with the Thunder via the Paul George trade.

And he followed it up with another tweet which confirmed Russell Westbrook was an asset Pat Riley had far more interest in:

It’s not like you can blame the Heat for their stance on Paul. After all, he’s 34 years old and has only played in 58 games in each of the last two seasons. As per his health, it should be noted Paul took an aggressive approach to rehab his injured hamstring last year and came back looking in better physical condition than he has in years. Paul made it through the two rounds the Rockets played in the postseason without any issues.

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After a season where load management took so much shade, the Toronto Raptors winning the title changed that viewpoint. Especially since the master of load management – Kawhi Leonard proved how viable that strategy is.

For the OKC Thunder, they’ll need to approach Chris Paul with a view to showcasing his talents while carefully managing his minutes in order to retain his health and trade viability.

This doesn’t mean the Thunder won’t trade Paul prior to the 2019-20 season start, however, it is far more likely Sam Presti will exercise patience. Known as a franchise who’ll work with players for best situations (especially stars and vets) the GM is likely to try to help Paul land in a winning situation.

That said, Presti doesn’t owe Paul to the same degree he did Westbrook, so it’s not a guarantee he’ll have to jettison him to a contender.

Ultimately, the market for Paul should improve as teams near the trade deadline. By that point in the season, playoff teams should be more defined and those clubs looking to either move up the ladder or strengthen their rosters will be far more open to making deals.

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This also bodes well for the Thunder since Paul will be committed to playing well, helping Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and presenting his best self on and off the court.