The Rockets have emerged as an “increasingly serious” threat in the Chris Paul sweepstakes, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein is the second ESPN reporter this week to make such a claim — Chris Haynes said on Monday that he has heard Houston has a “serious chance” to land Paul.
According to Stein, MVP finalist James Harden has been advocating for the Rockets to go after Paul, having made his interest in playing alongside the veteran point guard clear to both the team and to CP3 himself.
As Stein notes, the Rockets would have to make some cost-cutting moves in order to clear the cap space necessary to make a real run at Paul. Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley, and Lou Williams are among the players believed to be on the trade block, with ESPN’s report suggesting that Houston is focused on finding a taker for Anderson’s salary, which will be worth nearly $20MM in 2017/18.
Despite the classification of the Rockets as a “serious” suitor for Paul, I’m skeptical of the fit. Houston excelled this past season playing a fast-paced style with Harden running the point. Paul has generally played at a much slower pace, and incorporating him into the offense would mean taking the ball out of Harden’s hands. Additionally, I think the Rockets would probably have to attach at least one valuable asset – such as a future first-round pick – to Anderson’s contract in order to gain any traction in trade talks.
Still, according to Stein, the Clippers continue to worry that Paul could bolt in free agency, and view Houston and San Antonio as legitimate threats. We heard earlier today that CP3’s camp sat down with the Clippers on Tuesday to discuss the point guard’s future. The two sides plan to meet again a few days from now.