After losing to the Warriors and supposedly demanding a trade, James Harden told the Rockets management to choose between him and Paul, who reportedly didn’t speak for two months during the regular season. Paul later refuted the report via Instagram, but the fact remains that Paul’s exit may be imminent.
At 34 years old, Paul’s age and a lengthy contract will make it difficult to find an instant trade partner. Just last year, Paul signed a four-year, $160 million max extension. In his final year, Paul will be making over $44 million at the age of 36. Although his contract is quite unappealing, Paul is still a top-tier point guard with plenty of experience who could help a variety of teams right now.
Taking this into account, let’s take a look at three potential landing spots for CP3.
Finishing 39-43 last season, the Miami Heat failed to qualify for the playoffs. With a big upcoming free agent class, and Paul now likely on the move, the Heat are in prime position to make some noise this offseason.
As for a potential Paul trade, the Heat would have to pair a few contracts in order for a deal to work. The Heat would likely try to send Goran Dragic in a deal, who is approaching the final year with the Heat. Dragic is expected to make $19 mil this upcoming season, but Houston is in a bit of a bind if the rumors are true, and the Heat will have a lot of leverage. The Heat also have Hassan Whiteside’s immense contract at their disposal, as well as Ryan Anderson, who could be traded back to Houston after the conclusion of the league year on June 30.
Although trading for Paul at this point in his career may be risky, he could be the attractive acquisition that brings in other free agents this offseason, and it’s the sort of move Pat Riley would make. Free agent forward Jimmy Butler has already expressed interest in the Heat, and bringing in Paul would further legitimize their chances of winning.
In order to make this happen, the Heat need to focus on clearing cap space, which remains a major problem for them heading into the 2019 offseason.
Yet another team to just miss out on the playoffs, the Minnesota Timberwolves bode as a potential destination for Paul via trade. Yes, they’re admittedly a long shot after their Jimmy Butler issues, but a potential destination they remain. With Andrew Wiggins set to make a team-high $25 million this upcoming season, the Wolves should (if they aren’t already) be looking to offload his albatross of a deal.
Ever since coming into the league in 2014, Wiggins has excelled in putting up strong offensive scoring production, yet is a liability in almost every other aspect of the game. He tops out as a decent rotation piece, but is paid like a top-ten player. For the T-Wolves, a deal centered around Wiggins in exchange for Paul is the only way to start to make finances work.
Paul would provide the Wolves an experienced pass-first guard who would pair perfectly with star big man Karl Anthony Towns. Even though Minnesota might not sound like the most appealing option for Paul, there aren’t a ton of teams with the requisite combination of cap space and bloated contracts to make a trade for him. Of course, the Wolves already saw what happened when competitive veterans come to town. If they think Paul would help more than Butler, they’ll explore the option.
New York Knicks
Knicks fans, close your eyes.
Although the current management regime of Steve Mills and Scott Perry have continued to reiterate that they plan on building the Knicks up through the draft, a trade offer for Chris Paul may deter their plans. The Knicks have put themselves in prime position to sign multiple free agents this offseason, to see Anthony Davis go to Los Angeles and Kyrie Irving likely sign with their crosstown rival. Although Kevin Durant is still a free agent and remains interested in the Knicks, his Achilles injury in the NBA Finals brings many uncertainties.
Trading for Paul might be the most intriguing option for Paul, as it provides him the opportunity to play for a storied franchise in a large market that desperately needs a point guard. With a plethora of picks and expendable contracts, trading for Paul might be the move the Knicks need. Once somebody comes to New York, it will likely create a domino effect. If Paul lands with the Knicks via trade, maybe that will seal the deal for Durant or other max free agents to sign with New York. If James Dolan and co. are desperate to go in on this offseason, this is a move they’d make.