Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is nearing the end of the five-year, $107 million contract he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers back in the summer of 2013. When the calendar hits July 1 this summer, the nine-time NBA All-Star will become an unrestricted free agent and will have the ability to sign with any team he so desires.
As of the moment, most NBA analysts believe that he will choose to stay with the Rockets as his pairing with fellow All-Star James Harden has been nothing short of remarkable for the current Western Conference leaders. Playing in his first season in Houston, Paul is averaging 18.8 points, 8.1 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in 32.1 minutes per game mainly as Harden’s sidekick.
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes predicted that Paul will choose to remain in Houston next season as the four-time NBA assists leader is bound to experience the deepest postseason run of his career this year even if the Rockets fall short of winning the NBA title.
Houston is on top of the West right now with a 51-13 slate, a half-game ahead of defending champions Golden State Warriors. They are also the hottest team in the league, going on a 17-game winning run heading into their match with East leaders Toronto Raptors on Friday.
Hughes said that the Sixers might be “an intriguing option” for Paul to choose this summer, but the presence of Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons would make him dispensable in head coach Brett Brown’s lineup. The market for an aging, injury-prone floor general would likely be limited, and so it would be “tough to imagine” the four-time All-NBA First Team member “leaving in free agency,” the reporter noted.
A separate Bleacher Report article, this time written by Adam Fromal, said that Paul is “likely looking at a longer deal for slightly less money” as the Rockets will do “everything in their power to retain him and keep their dynamic backcourt together.”
Fromal noted that if Paul demands a max salary, then Houston will only offer him a one or two-year deal, which would not be ideal for the soon-to-be 33-year-old superstar. Paul’s agreement to get traded to the Rockets instead of getting a larger max deal with the Clippers last summer is said to be a sign that winning is of higher priority than money at this stage of his career.
Clearly, Paul knows that his championship window is slowly closing and that staying with Harden appears to be his best chance to get an opportunity to play for one before his career ends.