Rumor: Chris Paul would’ve had to decline $44M player option to facilitate trade to Heat

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Chris Paul will probably start the season with the Thunder.

It’s not an ideal fit. Oklahoma City doesn’t need an expensive veteran as it begins to rebuild. Paul would probably prefer to play for a better team.

The Heat appeared interested in Paul. But they wanted draft picks to take on the three years and $124,076,442 remaining on his contract. The Thunder obviously deemed the cost too high.

But maybe the teams could have found a middle ground if Paul’s contract were $44,211,146 cheaper and one year shorter in Miami.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The other thing I heard was that it was basically, if Chris wanted to get traded to the Heat now, he would maybe have had to been willing to decline his player option.

Paul would probably prefer Miami to Oklahoma City. But the Heat would still likely be just a middling playoff team with him. Staying with the Thunder isn’t so bad when it keeps that $44 million-plus guaranteed.

Still, it was worth the teams asking. Just in case Paul wanted to join Miami that badly.

Paul would probably recoup some of that money in 2021 free agency. He might even get more in a multi-year deal than he would by exercising his option and hitting the market a year later.

But Paul can’t count on any payday in free agency at age 36. Even great players can be completely finished by then.

The only way Paul can guarantee himself money is keeping that player option intact, which he will.