A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski states that the Houston Rockets are shopping around several players on contract. While James Harden is off the table, even stars such as All-Star guard Chris Paul is a possible trade asset.
“In calls to front offices, Houston GM Daryl Morey is showing an aggressive desire to improve roster with all players and picks available in talks,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Hard to imagine James Harden scenario, but the rest under contract – perhaps even Chris Paul – could be moved in right deal.”
Paul is entering the second year of a 4-year, $159,730,592 contract. He will be 34 next year, and will be 37 when he becomes a free agent in 2022. Other expensive players include Clint Capela at just under $15 million for next season, as well as Eric Gordon at just over $14 million.
The 6-foot guard averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 assists per game last season. Here are potential landing spots for Chris Paul next season.
Potential Trade Destinations for Chris Paul
Jeremy Cluff of AZ Central states that the Phoenix Suns are still an option. He states that the Suns need a guard to unlock the potential of last year’s No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton and lead a young offense. He quotes Brandon Kleen of Bright Side of the Sun:
“The Suns’ need is obvious, and Paul is the type of big-name veteran who would plug the whole in an aggressive manner. It seems like the type of thing that could appeal to Robert Sarver if he wants to win back respect around the league and among local fans. … If making a splash is the priority, Paul is a no-brainer target. But recent history shows us James Jones is more patient than this, and will prefer a long-term answer at the position.”
Part of the speculation about jettisoning Paul outside Houston is due to his dustup with Harden after the Rockets were eliminated in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals to the Warriors. According to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, this could lead to Paul returning to Los Angeles, but this time with the Lakers.
Lakers get: PG Chris Paul
Rockets get: F Brandon Ingram, G Josh Hart, C Mo Wagner
Analysis: This works two-fold. The Rockets get Paul’s massive contract off their books — the Lakers can afford to absorb most of it — and get a variety of role players to augment the roster, while LeBron James gets his best friend and an All-Star to join him. The Lakers wouldn’t have the cap space to sign anyone, but perhaps they could combine draft picks, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to find another star in a trade.
He also sees possibilites with the Heat, Bucks, Knicks, Sixers, Suns, Spurs and Jazz. For the Suns, he points out that he would fit very well alongside burgeoning star guard Devin Booker in the Phoenix backcourt.
Time will tell what Houston is going to do with Paul, but the rampant rumors tell a story that the franchise values Harden far more than the guard they imported from Los Angeles just a few seasons ago.