According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat are doing their research when it comes to possibly acquiring the former All-Star guard, but they’re not being aggressive in their pursuit of the 34-year-old veteran.
The Heat had been seen as the favorites to land the services of Russell Westbrook, but the former MVP was snatched up by the Houston Rockets in a swift deal for Paul. Although it had initially been reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder planned to enter the 2019-20 season as a playoff contender with Paul leading the way, there have been whispers that Paul could be moved via trade as the Thunder continue to stockpile future assets — mainly first-round draft selections.
However, Miami has been reluctant to include their young players — namely Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro — in a trade deal. It’s the reason why they weren’t able to acquire Westbrook and it looks like Pat Riley is once again playing hardball as there is no indication he plans on offering them up for a 34-year-old Paul.
As part of the trade with the Rockets, the Thunder acquired two first-round draft picks (2024 and 2026) and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. That’s in addition to the 2020 first-round draft selection the Thunder acquired as part of the Jerami Grant trade and the Clippers‘ first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 along with two more first-round draft choices (via Miami) in 2021 and 2023.
Long story short, the idea that Oklahoma City is open to moving Paul is a logical one — seeing as all of their moves this offseason have been reflective of a rebuilding process.
However, Oklahoma City is already stockpiled with first-round draft selections. There is no other NBA team that is better suited for the draft in the coming years than the Thunder due to the masterful job that general manager Sam Presti has done.
The Thunder still feature a solid supporting cast in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel and Andre Roberson. In other words, these are all guys that would be effective playing alongside a pass-first point guard in Paul. If Oklahoma City can manage to remain a playoff team with a star leading the franchise in Paul — pleasing the fan base in the process — while still retaining their assets, it’s a win-win situation for the Thunder.
While trade talks could intensify over the coming days, the Thunder and Heat look to be content with their current situations if push comes to shove.