Despite having a limited salary cap space, the Houston Rockets are expected to be aggressive on the free agency market in the upcoming offseason. In the past months, rumors continued to circulate that the Rockets plan to pursue Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. However, before going all-in for James, Houston should first consider bringing Chris Paul back.
Like James, Chris Paul is also set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. With their success in the 2017-18 NBA season, it is a no-brainer for the Rockets to re-sign Paul. However, the type of contract the veteran point guard plans to sign could put the Rockets in a huge dilemma as, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Paul has no intention to take a pay cut in the upcoming free agency.
“When the Rockets made that deal for Chris Paul, knowing they would re-sign him [once he hit free agency], they made a conscious decision that they were gonna have to live with [paying him] $46, $47 million a year salary when he’s not nearly the player anymore in his late 30s, but, ‘we’re gonna make a run at it now, we wanna win a championship now,'” Woj told ESPN‘s Bobby Marks (h/t Clutch Points). “Chris Paul didn’t turn down $200 million from the Clippers because he thought that somehow the Rockets were gonna talk him into saving them luxury tax money. I don’t imagine it playing out that way.”
Chris Paul is undeniably one of the main reasons why the Rockets became the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and almost eliminated the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. If he didn’t suffer an injury in Game 6 and 7, most people believe the Rockets would be the one playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals 2018 and not the Warriors. In 58 games this season, Paul averaged 18.6 points, 7.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals on 46 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc.
If his performance will be the basis, there is no doubt that Chris Paul deserves a huge payday. However, paying Paul $46-47 million per year will bury the Rockets deep in the luxury tax hell. If they give Paul a max contract, it remains a huge mystery how the Rockets will be able to sign LeBron James. Paul and James may have been close pals, but neither of the two superstars is expected to take a discount just to play together. Aside from that, the Rockets could also be forced to let Clint Capela walk away in free agency.
Another important thing that the Rockets should consider before giving Paul a max deal is his age and recurring injuries. Paul has suffered multiple injuries in the past, and at 33, no one can deny the fact that he’s already on the near end of his career. The Rockets should also think if Paul is still worth paying $46-47 million when he’s in his late 30s.