Westbrook is now reunited with former teammateJames Harden on a Rockets team that looks to be one of the best in the West. For Paul, he went from playing for a contender to being shipped off to a team that’s clearly in the midst of a long rebuilding process. Considering this, it’s just a matter of time before the Thunder either trade Paul or buy out his contract completely, warranting him the ability to sign with whom he wishes. It was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski that Houston tried and failed to find a third team in the deal that would be a desired destination for Paul.
Now, it’s up to the Oklahoma City Thunder to decide the best course of action for Paul moving forward.
When the Thunder ultimately decide to either trade or buy out Paul, here are three potential landing spots for the nine-time NBA All-Star.
Los Angeles Lakers
Let’s make this clear, the only possible way that Paul and the Los Angeles Lakers could work is if the Thunder buy out his contract. If this were to happen, Paul and the Lakers make sense on many fronts. Although Los Angeles recently announced that they intend to start LeBron James at the point, this is due in large part to the point guards they currently have on their roster, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso. With this turn of events, the Lakers now have a decent chance of acquiring one of the top point guards in the league. Outside of their need at the position, Paul and James are best friends who spend nearly every offseason together riding on banana boats in tropical wonderlands. If Paul gets bought out, you can expect James to recruit him heavily to round out a big three between them and newly acquired Anthony Davis. Thinking he’d be a Laker in 2011 before then-Commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade, Paul may finally be heading back to LA, but this time, playing for the purple and gold. With the Lakers’ current contract situation preventing them from signing Paul to a long-term, expensive deal, Paul would likely have to sign a short-term, team-friendly contract in order to join the Lakers.
Prior to Paul being traded to OKC, the Miami Heat were a team that expressed interest in acquiring a point guard. Specifically, the Heat and Westbrook were speculated to have mutual interest. With Westbrook now on the Rockets, Paul could be a perfect Plan B for the Heat. After acquiring Jimmy Butler via trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat have been seeking another star. With a nine-time NBA All-Star and top-tier point guard now likely on the market, the Heat won’t find a better opportunity than this. Whether it be a new contract after a buyout or his current deal from his extension with the Rockets, the Heat would be able to afford signing Paul either way. Both the Thunder and Heat are open to discussing a potential deal for Paul. At this point, it’s up to CP3 if he would be open to teaming up with Butler in Miami.
Somewhat of a wild card team in the Paul sweepstakes, the Minnesota Timberwolves are another team in desperate need of a point guard. Built around star forward Karl-Anthony Towns, the T-Wolves also drafted highly touted prospect Jarret Culver to round out their young core. The addition of CP3 would bring much-needed veteran experience to the team, while also providing Towns one of the best facilitators in the game. As for a deal between the two teams, it could work due to the fact that they could switch one bad contract for another. In exchange for Paul, the T-Wolves could possibly send Andrew Wiggins and his enormous contract to OKC, along with a few picks. Although Paul’s contract is bad, he’s only under contract for three more years. As for Wiggins, he’s locked up for four years and making an extraordinary amount of money. If OKC were to do this swap, they’d be able to get additional picks from the T-Wolves to build upon their already long list of future draft picks.
Once they acquire Wiggins, who is only 24, the Thunder could decide whether or not they want to try and play him, or ultimately buy him out/trade him. The coming together of two bad contracts might just happen and result in CP3 heading to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.