What a long, strange trip it … could be.
Continued talk about the possibility of Chris Paul being shipped to the Miami Heat has put the spotlight back onto one of the most-traveled draft picks in recent memory: the Heat’s 2021 first-rounder. And one of the more remarkable twists to the Paul trade chatter could be the pick winding up right back where it began.
It was more than four years ago that the Heat decided to part with their 2021 first-rounder. It’s been on quite a journey since then. Check it out:
- February 2015. Destination: Phoenix. The Heat first sent the pick to Phoenix, with a draft pick that transferred in 2018 (the Suns would take, then trade, Zhaire Smith), as part of the deal to bring in point guard Goran Dragic. The Heat also traded Danny Granger to Phoenix, as well as Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Shawne Williams to New Orleans as part of a three-team deal. Just like that, the 2021 first-rounder was on its way.
- June 2018. Destination: Philadelphia. The Suns sat on the Heat pick for three years but GM Ryan McDonough was eager to use it in this draft to acquire a point guard. He thought he could move up to land Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which would have been a brilliant use of the pick, but the idea reprtedly was squashed by owner Robert Sarver. Instead, McDonough scrambled to make a move for Mikal Bridges, sending Zhaire Smith, who was the No. 16 pick, and Miami’s 2021 pick to Philadelphia. Getting the Miami pick earned the Sixers rave reviews in post-draft grades.
- February 2019. Destination: Los Angeles. Once the Miami pick was in hand, the Sixers were determined to use it to build a win-now contender. There was speculation that the pick would be included in a deal to bring in Jimmy Butler from Minnesota in November, but the Sixers held fast and the Timberwolves eventually relented, making the deal without the pick. That would pay off in February when the pick was a big element of the blockbuster deal that sent Tobias Harris to Philadelphia. Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott also went to Philly, who sent Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala to the Clippers. The Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick also went to the Clippers along with Miami’s 2021 pick.
- June 2019. Destination: Oklahoma City. The Miami 2021 pick’s tenure in Los Angeles did not last long. Just five months after acquiring it, the Clippers had the pick on the move again, this time for its first trip to the Heartland. The pick was a centerpiece in the deal that sent Paul George from Oklahoma City to the Clippers, along with Gilgeous-Alexander and forward Danilo Gallinari. The Thunder also got three first-rounders (in 2022, 24 and 26) as well as the right to swap picks in 2023 and 25.
It would only make sense if the Miami 2021 pick, after all these peregrinations, wound up back where it started. It’s already been dealt as a key part of trades for an All-Star, a future Hall of Famer and a likely future All-Star, plus whatever Bridges winds up becoming.
Getting it back with the Heat, four years after it was first moved, for another Hall of Famer, Chris Paul? That would be a fitting end to its saga.