Miami Heat

Mailbag: Does trading for Chris Paul make sense for the Heat?

‘I’m still chasing another championship,’ says Pat Riley

Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.
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Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.

The Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.

If you weren’t able to ask one this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email me at achiang@miamiherald.com.

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@JohnDoe863: Is the Heat getting Chris Paul or nah?

Anthony Chiang: For now, it’s still unknown. Oklahoma City is looking to trade Paul and, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Paul’s preference is to be traded to Miami. But a league source has told the Miami Herald that while the Heat will listen and do due diligence on the matter, the Heat is not aggressively pursuing a deal for Paul at this moment.

If the Thunder includes assets — such as some of the many draft picks it has acquired in recent weeks — to make the deal more attractive to the Heat, maybe Paul does end up in Miami.

The fact is the Heat probably needs some extra incentive to take on the final three years and $124 million of Paul’s contract. Paul is a nine-time All-Star and he would help the Heat, but that expensive contract paired with the point guard’s age (34) and lack of durability is concerning.

So what would it take for the Heat to do the trade? Only Miami’s front office knows that answer, but it could be as simple as getting its 2021 and 2023 first-round picks back from Oklahoma City. Windhorst reported the Heat is looking to get those two picks back in a trade for Paul, but the Thunder is only willing to deal one of the picks and in exchange wants another Miami first-round pick from further in the future.

What would make that trade (getting the 2021 and 2023 first-round picks back) so appealing to the Heat? Aside from getting two first-round picks back and a point guard who can help you in the short-term, it also unlocks Miami’s ability to trade multiple first-round selections in a potential deal for another star. Because Miami currently doesn’t have its 2021 or 2023 picks, it’s not eligible to trade an unprotected first-round pick until 2028. The NBA doesn’t allow teams to be without consecutive future first-round picks, but getting its 2021 and 2023 selections back gives the Heat the freedom to include first-round picks in trades.

@unkstreetz: Are you good with the Heat standing pat with the current roster, and what do you project the starting lineup to look like? Justise Winslow at point, Dion Waiters, Jimmy Butler, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo?

Anthony: I’m good with the Heat standing pat for now because it has already made a big move this offseason ... without cap space. The addition of Jimmy Butler is huge for this organization. He’s the type of All-Star and leading man the Heat has been chasing for the past few years. While Butler doesn’t immediately make Miami a championship contender, it’s the first step in that direction.

Even if the Heat stands pat for the rest of this offseason, it’s not going to be because it’s satisfied with the current roster. It’s going to be because no other star became available to Miami at the right price. The Heat was in on Russell Westbrook, but the price ended up being too high. Once another star is on the market, the Heat will be ready to pounce. The plan is to get multiple established All-Stars on the roster, not just one.

As for Miami’s starting lineup this upcoming season, I think your guess is a good one. Justise, Dion, Jimmy, Kelly and Bam is what I would predict, too.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.
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