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Reports: Thunder GM to meet with Chris Paul, help trade him to preferred destination


Chris Paul is ultra-competitive, wants to win right now, and is getting older (and his game shows it).

That does not fit with Oklahoma City’s rebuilding plan — it has stockpiled so many picks Danny Ainge feels bettered —  so Thunder GM Sam Presti is expected to sit down with Paul and his agent to come up with a plan to get the future Hall of Fame point guard where he wants to be, according to multiple reports.

One complication is the three-years, $124 million Paul is owed. Heat have the salaries to match and make this work — Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Dion Waiters — and the Thunder have the picks to send East if they want. The challenge is the Thunder are $3.7 million into the luxury tax and want to shed salary, while the Heat are hard-capped after the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade and are up against that number, they can’t take on salary.

One way or another expect the Thunder to make a move, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes, and don’t even think about a buyout because OCK as an organization does not want dead money on its books (which is what a buyout would leave them).

It will not be easy, but expect Paul to be traded again long before next season starts. And expect him to have a big game when he faces Houston.

Report: Thunder asked Heat to trade two of Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow for Russell Westbrook

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People around the NBA reportedly considered it inevitable the Thunder will trade Russell Westbrook to the Heat.

Those people should hold their horses.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

At another point in the discussions this week, the Thunder asked the Heat to include two among Herro, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, according to a source in touch with one of the two teams. The Heat also is opposed to including Adebayo, whom Erik Spoelstra ranked among the best centers in the league in the final months of last season.

Though the Heat very much would like to add Westbrook, OKC’s demands have resulted in a stalemate in conversations as of Wednesday evening.

Westbrook is 30, already showing signs of decline and owed $171,139,920 over the next four years. He no longer fits in Oklahoma City, which appears ready to rebuild after trading Paul George primarily for draft picks.

The Thunder can ask for a lot of return. They probably won’t get it.

The Heat probably view Adebayo as alone too valuable to include in any Westbrook trade construction. They also just signed Herro to his rookie-scale contract, meaning he can’t be traded for 30 days. That seems like a message to Oklahoma City. Winslow, a solid player who’s still trying to find his lane and is young enough to develop further, makes most sense in a deal. He’s the highest-paid of the three, and aggregating enough salary to match Westbrook’s and stay below the hard cap will be challenge.

The big question: When will the Thunder reduce their demands?

Miami still looks like frontrunners to get Westbrook. But that could change if Westbrook begins the season in Oklahoma City. More teams could enter discussions Dec. 15, when most players signed this summer will become eligible to be traded. Miami’s current advantage is having so many expensive players – Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters and Winslow – to deal now.

The Heat must still appease the Thunder, and that’ll apparently take some tough negotiating.

Report: People around NBA consider it ‘inevitability’ Thunder will trade Russell Westbrook to Heat

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There’s reportedly mutual interest between Russell Westbrook and the Heat. The Thunder are ready to trade Westbrook after heading toward rebuilding by sending Paul George to the Clippers.

Will Westbrook really land in Miami?

Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

People around the league consider it an inevitability that he will wind up there at this point, too.

Maybe these people know only what’s public and are jumping to conclusions. But the possibility they know more is intriguing. Perhaps, a Westbrook-to-Heat trade is even further down the road than we realize.

It’d make a lot of sense.

Miami has the expensive players – Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters – to match salaries. The Heat are also trying to win now while stuck. Westbrook would provide a jolt.

The Thunder would shed Westbrook’s burdensome contract ($171,139,920 over the next four years) as the 30-year-old likely continues to decline. Oklahoma City probably wouldn’t need much return.

And Westbrook would probably like Miami, a destination market. After all he has meant to the Thunder, they’ll probably try to send him somewhere he prefers.

There are complications. The Heat are hard-capped and near their team-salary limit. Oklahoma City wants to shed payroll and avoid the repeater luxury tax. This would probably require a third team to take salary. Miami is also short on draft picks to trade (though reducing protections on a lottery-protected 2023 first-rounder already owed to the Thunder could work).

While nothing is certain, we should probably treat Westbrook-to-the-Heat as at least a likelihood.

Report: Apparent mutual interest between Russell Westbrook, Miami Heat

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In the wake of Paul George forcing his way to the Clippers, Russell Westbrook and Thunder management have talked and both are now looking at trade possibilities for the former MVP point guard.

The challenge is where? Westbrook has four years, just less than $170 million left on his contract (the last year of that is a $46 million player option, is there really any question he picks that up?). Sources around the Las Vegas Summer League have said that number — and Westbrook’s ball-dominant style — have a number of teams backing away.

Miami is reportedly interested, and Westbrook is interested in them as well, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Miami Heat have expressed interest, a potential destination that also appeals to Westbrook, league sources said…

Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, have been discussing trade possibilities and scenarios with [Thunder president Sam] Presti, and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources told ESPN.

Westbrook wants to play for a team pursuing contention, which is no longer the case with the Thunder.

Miami did a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia for Jimmy Butler, which complicates trading for Westbrook on a couple of different levels. One is simply the players Miami has to offer — Josh Richardson, a player coveted in many front offices around the league, is no longer in the mix. Miami has a lot of salaries that could be put together to match Westbrook’s $35.7 million next season — Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters, James Johnson — but do any of them interest the rebuilding Thunder? The picks the Heat can trade also are years out (both their 2021 first-round pick, unprotected, and 2023 first-rounder, lottery protected, now belong to OKC from the George trade).

The other problem: The Butler trade hard-capped the Heat this season, and they are already close to that number, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks explains.

There are creative ways to get a trade done, and a third team could be brought in to make it work. But this would be a tough deal to make work for both sides.

Rumor: Heat want to trade Dion Waiters, James Johnson

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We already told you about the report the Miami Heat have interest in J.R. Smith.

Why? As a salary dump. Trade for him around the draft, waive him before July 1 and his $15.7 million non-guaranteed salary becomes $3.9 million against the cap.

Miami is looking to make some other moves to free up cap space this summer, trying to trade some of their bad contracts. From Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

NBA officials who spoke to the Heat say Miami remains intent on trying to trade one of a few contracts with multiple years remaining, with James Johnson and Dion Waiters considered available on the trade market.

There is a lot of buzz around the league that the Heat will be ultra aggressive this summer, but to do that they will need more financial flexibility. Even if the Heat buy out Ryan Anderson (as expected), they will be roughly $5 million into the luxury tax next season. Which is why these rumors make some sense.

The question becomes what sweeteners are the Heat going to throw in to get a team to take on Waiters $24.8 million over two seasons, or Johnson at $31.5 million over two seasons?

If you’re thinking about a Smith for Waiters or Johnson trade with the Cavaliers, that sweetener question is still the same. Cleveland isn’t giving up one year of Smith for two of Waiters or Johnson without getting something else of value back in the mix (and a second-round pick isn’t going to cut it).

Trading the Goran Dragic or Hassan Whiteside contracts (entering their final years) will also be on the table for the Heat this summer, but it will not be easy to find those players a new home.