It is already well-known that the Houston Rockets will attempt to coax Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard to come to the Lone Star State in free agency, but will Houston try their luck at landing another superstar come July 1?
Yes, says the Houston Chronicle blog Ultimate Rockets.
The second soon-to-be free agent in question is Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Paul is expected to resign with Los Angeles in free agency, however a recent controversy may be enough to entice him to at least entertain other offers this offseason.
The Clippers fired head coach Vinny Del Negro after their best season in franchise history, after Los Angeles finished 56-26 on the year, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies. Following Del Negro’s surprising exit, most of the blame for the firing was blamed on Paul. The point guard became angry at the Clippers organization as a result. Eventually, the Clippers said that the decision to fire Del Negro was theirs, not Paul’s.
As of now, the situation seems to be over, however will this linger in Paul’s mind when free agency begins? The Rockets are hoping so.
Concerning the actual courting of Paul and Howard, a Houston Chronicle source with knowledge of the Clippers’ plans says that the two “are targets No. 1 and 1A.”
Houston will simultaneously pursue both Paul and Howard. James Harden and Chandler Parsons have already spoken with Howard, while Harden and Paul know each other from their time on the US National Team in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The Rockets are trying to lower their cap room to be able to sign both superstars, and that may not be of grave concern for Houston. The team is already in the process of trying to trade forward Thomas Robinson, a move that would most likely clear enough space. Additionally, a source with knowledge of Houston’s plans says that “there are about 20 other ways” to get under the cap low enough to sign both players.
While cap room is not the main question for the Rockets, will they be able to woo both players to Houston? Howard seems extremely likely to don the Rockets’ uniform next season, although Paul is the bigger long shot of the two. It would appear that the only way the Rockets can convince Paul to come to their team, is a promise of a championship soon.
Houston is one of the better up-and-coming teams in the NBA with Harden and Parsons leading the squad. If Paul and Howard were to come aboard, it would instantly turn the Rockets into Western Conference contenders. That version of the Rockets may be able to conquer current Western Conference stalwarts the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, actually winning a championship may be difficult. Houston would most likely be matched up against the Heat, assuming they make it to the finals next season with the aforementioned four along for the ride. Miami would be a worthy opponent against Houston, and Houston may not be able to raise a banner against the Heat, although just the thought of multiple opportunities at a championship may be enough to coax Paul to Houston.
The thought of Paul coming to the Rockets may be a hail mary at this juncture, however Houston seems determined to make it a reality. Will it actually happen?
That is the question.