Rockets rumor: Chris Paul won’t take anything less than a max contract

Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets
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According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Chris Paul is not planning to accept any pay cuts to stay with the Rockets. He wants to sign a max contract.

When the Houston Rockets traded for Chris Paul last summer, they took on a lot of risk.

Not only did they trade away a lot of assets for the then 32-year-old point guard, but they also had no idea if Paul and James Harden could co-exist on the same team. Additionally, Paul was set to become an unrestricted free agent just a year later. There’s always the risk that he could leave the Rockets empty-handed after just a year of service.

Luckily for the Rockets, everything turned out well. After adding P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green, Houston didn’t really miss the guys that were included in the Chris Paul trade. Harden and Paul also not only proved that they could co-exist, but that they could thrive. The Rockets went 61-12 in games that Paul played in last season.

The Rockets will explore signing other big names, like Paul George, in free agency. In an effort to make cap room, the Rockets could ask Paul to accept a pay cut. But on a recent episode of the WojPod, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi said that he doesn’t expect Paul to accept anything less than a max contract, via Clutch PointsShane Mickle.

“When the Rockets made that deal for Chris Paul, knowing they would re-sign him [once he hit free agency], they made a conscious decision that they were gonna have to live with [paying him] $46, $47 million a year salary when he’s not nearly the player anymore in his late 30s, but, ‘we’re gonna make a run at it now, we wanna win a championship now.

“We’ll deal with it [Paul’s contract] later.’ We’ll see how that plays out in their contract talks [with Paul] here in free agency. Chris Paul didn’t turn down $200 million from the Clippers because he thought that somehow the Rockets were gonna talk him into saving them luxury tax money. I don’t imagine it playing out that way.”

Daryl Morey has already stated that, generally, he wants to bring the free agents back. Although, signing Paul to something like a 5-year, $200 million deal comes with its own risks.

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For one, Paul is injury prone. Throughout his career, CP3 has suffered untimely injuries in the postseason, like he did in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Paul also missed 24 games in the regular season due to various injuries.

Also, we have to take into account that Paul just turned 33 years old. In the 2018 All-Star Game, LeBron James was the oldest player on the court, and he’s only a few months older than Paul. Currently, there aren’t any 35-year-old superstars in the NBA, but Paul will be 35 in two years, and he wouldn’t even be halfway through his max contract.

The best option for Houston would be to offer Paul a 3-year, $100 million deal, like the Raptors offered Kyle Lowry last year. Paul is obviously the better player, but he and Lowry are in a similar position. Both are the second best players on their team, both are undersized guards, and both are on the wrong side of 30.

Paul is worth every bit of a max contract now, but will Paul still be this good when he’s 37 or 38 years old? Will the Rockets want to pay Paul $40 million or more per year when he’s basically washed up? Those are heavy questions to consider. If Houston tries to convince Paul to take a pay cut and he leaves, then the Rockets won’t get anything for him.

Next: 3 reasons why Paul George is a good fit for the Houston Rockets

If Daryl Morey thinks this team can beat the Warriors and win a championship in the next couple of years, then they should give Paul the max. Take the ring(s) now, and then worry about Paul’s contract down the line. That’s what the Rockets signed up for last summer.

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