The Rockets are officially listing Chris Paul as questionable for Thursday’s game in Phoenix, but it sounds like the team expects its veteran point guard to suit up. Head coach Mike D’Antoni said today that he plans on having Paul in the starting lineup tomorrow and will likely have him play about 20 minutes, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
“He’s ready to go,” D’Antoni said. “I think he’s playing tomorrow. We’ll see. It’s good. Now, what we have done up to now doesn’t count. We have a new team tomorrow. When you put that big of a rock into a pond, there’s big waves. We have to figure out, one, give him a chance to get into game shape, and two, everybody’s rotation is a little bit different.”
Paul’s stint in Houston has gotten off to an anticlimactic start, with the former Clipper appearing in just one regular season game for his new club before being sidelined due to a knee injury. Recognizing that their roster is strong enough that there was no need to force Paul into action in October and November games, the Rockets opted to hold him out until he got 100% healthy.
The Rockets have an 11-4 record so far this season, with Harden playing a point guard role similar to the one he played last year. 2017’s MVP runner-up is leading the NBA with 10.3 assists per game this season, but Harden should still benefit from having CP3 back. Games like Tuesday’s loss to the Raptors, in which Harden went 8-for-25 from the field, turned the ball over nine times, and ran into foul trouble, show that Paul’s ability to share ball-handling duties figures to come in handy for Houston.
In addition to helping the Rockets win games, Paul will also be looking to improve his stock as he nears free agency. He’ll be 33 years old when he reaches the open market in 2018, and no longer seems like a lock for a long-term, maximum-salary contract.