Last Word On Basketball

Houston Rockets Open to Trade Any Player

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 13: Chris Paul (3) of the Houston Rockets drives on Jamal Murray (27) of the Denver Nuggets during the second half of the Rockets' 109-99 win on Monday, November 13, 2018. The Denver Nuggets hosted the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has made all players available for trade talks, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski. A trade involving 2018 NBA MVP James Harden seems highly unlikely, but Chris Paul’s days in Houston may be numbered.

Houston Rockets Make All Players Available in Trade Talks

The Rockets have come the closest to dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the West, but have now come up short in back-to-back seasons. Morey apparently started making phone calls around the league after their season-ending loss to the Warriors. Perhaps change is on the horizon.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise considering the uncertain future of the Western Conference. The entire power structure of the league could shift if Kevin Durant decides to leave the Bay this summer. Yet, the Rockets feel it’s time to make a move.

Paul is the first name that comes to mind as a serious trade piece. The Rockets don’t have a single pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to offer, and dealing Harden would signify a total rebuild. Paul is the next-best choice. He was also reportedly disgruntled with head coach Mike D’Antoni and his isolation-centric style.

The biggest issue with Paul, his contract. The aging star will earn a whopping $124 million over the next three seasons. Paul is 34 years old and will have just turned 37 when the contract expires in 2022.

Potential Suitors

Only teams in “win now” mode would even consider taking on a contract like Paul’s. One such team almost snagged him back in 2011; the Los Angeles Lakers.

Whenever potential player movement is hinted at, the Lakers are the first team mentioned. Though the adage may be overused, it fits in this case. With LeBron James aging more every day (albeit he ages like a fine wine), the clock is ticking to make a move. They may be one of few teams willing to give up pieces of a young core to take on a massive contract like Paul’s. Maybe the “banana boat” crew will finally unite (Carmelo Anthony still needs a team).

The Boston Celtics may also be in the market for a point guard in the upcoming offseason depending on Kyrie Irving’s impending free agency decision. It also appears unlikely that Terry Rozier returns to the team, leaving a large gap in the Boston backcourt. Paul would be pricey, but the Celtics have plenty of assets to trade if they wanted to pursue him. The Celtics would most likely look toward the draft or a cheaper/younger option like Mike Conley or Kemba Walker if Irving departs, but not many teams could put together a better trade package if they pursue Paul.

It’s unlikely that any young team in the middle of a rebuild would go after Paul. However, other players may also end up in trade talks such as Clint Capela or Eric Gordon. It would be much easier to move those pieces while also keeping both stars in town.

Last Word on the Houston Rockets

Whatever the end result is, change is clearly on the horizon for the Houston Rockets. Expectations and hype have been through the roof for the organization ever since they paired Paul and Harden, but the era may already be nearing a close.

Morey should be trusted to make the right moves going forward. He is considered one of the best at his job for a reason. If not for the Golden State dynasty, perhaps the Rockets would have multiple championships over the past few seasons. When faced with such adversity, sometimes “running it back” just isn’t the right direction.

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