Chris Paul trade rumors: Why the Rockets shouldn’t deal CP3

first_imgMORE: Chris Paul addresses trade rumors, says he’s “happy” with RocketsWhat’s really going on with the Rockets? It depends on who is answering the question. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reports the relationship between Paul and Harden is “unsalvageable,” and Paul wants out. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told ESPN’s Zach Lowe in no uncertain terms there has been no trade demand from Paul, something Paul himself has reiterated. Houston guard Austin Rivers called the supposed Paul-Harden rift “fake news.” Skip Bayless is talking about “man boobs” for some reason.The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe there hasn’t been an explicit trade demand from Paul, but it’s hard to imagine Morey hasn’t at least discussed Paul’s value around the league with other teams.But if the Rockets and Paul are secretly pushing for a deal to get done, they should stop and re-evaluate the situation. Here are three reasons why Houston should not deal CP3.1. What team would actually trade for Chris Paul?This isn’t 28-year-old All-Star Chris Paul, who led the NBA in assists and steals per game. This is 34-year-old Chris Paul, coming off the worst scoring (15.6 points per game) and shooting (41.9 percent from the field) season of his career. And that’s without mentioning the injury problems that have limited him to 58 games in each of the last two seasons with the Rockets.The bigger issue, though, isn’t Paul’s performance — it’s his contract. As one NBA agent told Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger, “Who the hell is going to take $124 million with Chris Paul?”Chris Paul contractBase salary2019-20$38.5 million2020-21$41.3 million2021-22 (player option)$44.2 million2022Unrestricted free agentTying up the salary cap as Paul ages into his mid 30s is … not ideal. It’s safe to say he will be exercising that player option when the time comes.That severely limits the trade market for Paul and puts the Rockets in a tough spot.2. What are the Rockets receiving in a Chris Paul trade?Forget finding a fair return. The Rockets would have trouble simply finding a willing trade partner.Take this example from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor:The Rockets recently explored trading Chris Paul into New York’s cap space, but the Knicks refused, according to league sources. Trading Paul would have positioned the Rockets to be a Clint Capela or Eric Gordon trade away from freeing up the cap space to sign Jimmy Butler, who league sources say they plan to pursue.Yes, the win-starved Knicks shut down any Paul trade talks. It took a few painful lessons, but New York finally understands the consequences of making big moves simply for the sake of saying, “Hey, we made a big move!”Accounting for his on-court value and contract, there just aren’t a ton of paths to improving the Rockets in a Paul trade.Send him to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins, Keita Bates-Diop and Josh Okogie? Straight up for Celtics forward Gordon Hayward? Houston likely isn’t winning more games in any of these scenarios.3. The Rockets could reach the NBA Finals next season.And yet, despite all of the negatives pointed out here, the Rockets are still right in the thick of the championship chase.Paul undoubtedly struggled this past season, but he is capable of finding his old form on the big stage. He scored 27 points (11-of-19 from the field), grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists in the Rockets’ Game 6 loss to the Warriors, which eliminated Houston from the 2019 playoffs. The sky is falling in Houston. The Rockets need to trade Chris Paul immediately.Or, everything is fine. Nothing to see, folks. Business as usual for Paul, James Harden and the rest of the team. There is also continuity with this organization. Paul, Harden, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and Clint Capela will all be back. Mike D’Antoni will be on the sidelines. Morey can tweak a roster as well as anyone in the league.Houston has been the only real challenger to the Warriors in the Western Conference since Golden State signed Kevin Durant in 2016, and now those Warriors will look very different in 2019-20 following major injuries to Durant and Klay Thompson. Is there any other team the Rockets should fear? The Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Jazz will be in the West playoff bracket, and the Lakers and Clippers could be contenders depending on how the rest of free agency shakes out.But the Rockets could easily enter next season as the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. That alone is enough reason to keep Paul in place.last_img