While the Rockets have made their intentions to pursue Dwight Howard loud and clear, one other superstar should also expect to get a call from Houston on July 1. Jonathan Fiegen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets have made detailed preparations to pursue Chris Paul in free agency.
Howard has long been the presumed top target for Houston but one source familiar with the team’s plans insists that Paul is just as much in play for Houston as Howard is.
Rumors about Howard’s interest in playing for Houston have been swirling for over a month. Paul, on the other hand, has been mum about his intentions in free agency and has yet to give any indication about whether he’d be interested in playing for the Rockets.
Rockets stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons have both already spoken with Howard about the possibility of playing for the Rockets. Harden, who is close with Paul from their days as backcourt mates on team USA, will presumably pitch Houston to Paul in the coming weeks.
Although Chris Paul hasn’t shown signs of interest toward Houston in the past, it’s easy to see why the Rockets’ front office believes they can entice the league’s most popular floor general. After all, Paul is, perhaps, at his best when he pushes the floor in transition and the Rockets had the fastest paced offense in the entire league last season.
Regardless, Fiegen speculates that Howard’s stated interest in Houston could possibly stop the team from ever seriously reaching out to Paul:
“According to an individual with knowledge of Howard’s thinking, Howard has been interested in playing for Rockets coach Kevin McHale and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff, citing among other things McHale’s style and playing history as a Hall of Famer.”
The Rockets would have to clear about $3 million in cap space to sign either Howard or Paul to a max contract. Regardless, the team has a number of young trade assets that they would be willing to part with to create the necessary room.
Now, let’s see what else is going on around the league: