Last week, Chris Paul was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade that brought Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.
Following the trade, Chris Paul’s future has remained a hot-button topic. While Paul was part of the deal that reunited Russell Westbrook with James Harden in Houston, his days in Oklahoma City appear numbered.
Or are they?
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski: Paul’s time in Oklahoma City might be longer than originally thought. Woj believes that the Thunder have been unable to find a trade partner for Paul and he’s expected to begin the season with the team.
Sounds about right.
As reported last weekend, an NBA source recently told Heavy: “CP3 will end up with the Heat,” though a deal hasn’t been finalized. A source close to Paul told Heavy that Paul would like to join the Heat.
One potential holdup: The Thunder are thought to be interested in acquiring rookie guard Tyler Herro, a Kentucky product who tore up the NBA Summer League.
For those keeping score at home: League guidelines on rookie contracts mandates NBA teams to wait 30 days following the completion of the Paul/Westbrook trade in order to orchestrate a trade involving Herro.
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Scouting Report on Tyler Herro
Many are big on Herro’s upside and have even compared Herro to retired NBA player Jason Williams.
“Herro has got a sweet basketball game,” former Miami Heat forward, Caron Butler told the Miami Herald.
“He can score in so many ways. Going left or right, off the pick and roll, the catch and shoot. That’s what you call just an arsenal of ways to score the basketball. And he does not lack confidence whatsoever.”
Butler is not the only NBA’er who speaks highly of Herro.
“I think Tyler Herro is a flat out scoring machine,” retired NBA player Derek Anderson told me via text message.
Anderson a Kentucky product like Herro was drafted with the 13th pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He helped the Wildcats win a NCAA National basketball Championship in 1996 and won an NBA Championship as a member of the Miami Heat with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade in 2006.
“Some players come in and have to adjust to the game,” Anderson said of Tyler Herro.
“But his game was already built for the NBA. He brings a full package of scoring so he will be an asset immediately. He just has to know when to go hard, as he will be playing with veterans that already have the green light. Defensively will be his struggle in the beginning but if he picks up on that he can be in the conversation of Rookie of the year.”
Retired NBA veteran Olden Polynice is also sold on Tyler Herro.
“I love his game,” he told me.
“He could end up being Klay Thompson with handles.
That’s high praise.
For those keeping score at home: Olden Polynice was selected 8th overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1987 NBA Draft. Polynice was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for Scottie Pippen, the fifth pick.
In fifteen NBA seasons, Polynice averaged 7.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for five different NBA teams. The 6’11 center is still a vocal leader around the game. He now runs a basketball training camp called NextStar Basketball and coaches high schoolers, does skills training and some television work.
He likes Tyler Herro’s upside. “If you watch him he is similar to Klay in shooting stance and stroke,” he said.
“Heady passer and aggressive player. He moves well without the ball and is athletic. Lots of upside if he continues to work hard.”
Chasity Melivn, an assistant coach with the Greensboro Swarm, the Charlotte Hornets’ G League team actually coached Tyler Herro in the NBA’s Top 100 Camp in 2016 compared him to retired NBA veteran, Bob Sura.
The 17th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sura once hooped at Florida State with Charlie Ward and Sam Cassell and won the ACC Rookie of the Year at FSU during the 1991-92 season.
“Tyler Herro’s game reminds me a lot of Bobby Sura,” Melvin told me by phone.
Chasity Melvin knows all about Bob Sura. Before coaching in the G League. She had a front row seat in Cleveland. An 12-year WNBA vet who averaged 9.7 PPG and 5.4 she was the eleventh pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Cleveland Rockers. “He has a very good 3 pt shot and is also fearless and relentless in attacking the basket when chased off the 3pt line,” said Melvin.
Sura’s best season was during the 1999-2000 season as a member of the Cavs. The Wilkes-Barre, PA native posted 13.8 points per game during the 1999-2000 season. Sura also played for the Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets.
“He is very crafty finishing around the basket as a slasher and also has the ability to finish with contact and make free throws,” said Melvin.
“Defensively he lacks lateral quickness but if he learns how to use his length at the guard position and is surrounded by more athletics guards he is a very valuable pro with a huge upside.”
Chris Paul’s Miami Heat Future
Tyler Herro comes highly recommended. That could potentially be the holdup in a CP3 to Miami deal.
The potential pairing of Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler would make basketball sense.
The Heat have been looking to get better and maintain relevancy after the retirement of Dwyane Wade.
The Heat and DeMarcus Cousins had strong mutual interests. Cousins ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency.
Previous Trade Talk Points to Chris Paul Landing With Heat
The morning after the trade between the Thunder and Rockets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski spoke about the deal and offered some insight into the current situation. Not only did he tell ESPN’s “Get Up” that Oklahoma City is looking to move Paul quickly, but revealed that Miami is at the top of the list to get a deal done.
“The market for Chris Paul is going to be small, but Miami is at the top of that list. They’d like to try to get that deal done as soon as they can.” Wojnarowski said.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported a similar outlook, stating that the Thunder were open to a trade which would put Paul in a “more competitive situation.” Amick proceeded to explain that the Heat are believed to be among the possible landing spots.
Chris Paul Trade Outlook: Contract Implications
One looming question surrounding a potential trade for Paul has been which teams would be willing to take on the remainder of his contract. While the 34-year-old guard appears to still have good basketball left in him, it’s going to come at a high cost for any team that acquires him via trade.
As Spotrac shows, Paul is due north of $38.506 million this season, followed by more than $41.358 million in 2020-21. The nine-time NBA All-Star also has a player option worth over $44.211 million for 2021-22. The idea of paying more than $44 million to a player who would be 36 years old and is already on a slight decline isn’t appealing but Miami appears to like the potential Paul-Butler pairing.
If Miami does strike a deal for Paul, Goran Dragic, who has one year left on his deal with a cap hit of more than $19.217 million this season is also a consideration. But as far as what other pieces could be included, that makes for an interesting storyline, as Paul’s contract has likely had a negative impact on his trade value.
As far back as May and as recent as last month’s NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets were looking to improve through a trade this offseason. James Harden & PJ Tucker were deemed untouchables.
Los Angeles Lakers Still a Darkhorse for Paul
In NBA circles, the Lakers have been discussed as a team that Chris Paul is interested in joining.
“For us, anything short of a championship is not success,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said Friday.
Los Angeles brought in Anthony Davis via trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to join to LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma and the Lake Show.
LA also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo.
CP3 could help that Lakers team, but so could Carmelo Anthony who is believed to have interest in a Lakers pairing.