The Rockets’ acquisition of Chris Paul is now official, but the team may not be done dealing yet. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), a source tells him that the Rockets “think they are getting” Paul George or Carmelo Anthony.
Houston has been mentioned several times as a possible landing spot for George, who has made it clear he wants to leave Indiana. However, it remains to be seen whether the Rockets have enough assets to outbid rival suitors for George. Houston parted with young players (Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell), affordable veterans (Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley), and their 2018 first-round pick in today’s Paul trade. That doesn’t leave a ton of trade chips to offer the Pacers — a team like the Celtics would certainly be able to outbid Houston if they go all-in for George.
Still, the Rockets have shown in the past that they’re willing to be aggressive in trade talks for stars, even without a long-term commitment from that player. And according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, Houston would have “no qualms” about trading for George with one season left on his contract.
Although George’s preference is to sign with the Lakers in 2018, Sam Amick of USA Today writes that the Pacers forward “won’t close a window of opportunity.” According to Amick, if George were traded to the Cavaliers, he’d be open to the idea of re-signing with Cleveland in ’18 if LeBron James sticks around. If the Rockets were to acquire George, perhaps the team could pitch him on a multiyear run with Paul and James Harden.
As for Anthony, Ian Begley of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) that Paul was telling people a few days ago he’d like to play with Carmelo. Anthony’s situation is up in the air, particularly with Phil Jackson no longer in the picture in New York, but sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link) that if the Knicks do decide to part with the standout forward, they still intend to trade him rather than buy him out.
If the Rockets were to trade for George or Anthony, they’d have to send out a sizable contract in the deal. Ryan Anderson ($19,578,455 salary in 2017/18) is the most obvious trade candidate on the roster, but Indiana native Eric Gordon ($12,943,020 salary in ’17/18) could be an interesting option in talks with the Pacers.