10 Worst free agent signings in Rockets history

Anthony Duckett
Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets
Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets / Tim Warner/GettyImages
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7. Chris Paul

The Houston Rockets sent a massive haul to the LA Clippers to land Chris Paul in 2017, sending Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker, and a first-round draft pick (and more) to get Paul. To make the trade work, Paul opted into the final year of his contract, which helped the Rockets, as they were cap-strung financially.

The results were instant, as the Rockets won a franchise-best 65 games and secured the top seed in the West. The Rockets were on the cusp of title contention, reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2018, but were unable to stave off defeat to the Golden State Warriors, largely due to Paul suffering a fateful hamstring injury that ended his postseason.

This meant that they didn’t really have a choice, as they had to honor their agreement with him. Reneging on such a deal would deter future free agents from signing with the franchise, as players talk and agents don't forget such things. 

Because Paul opted into the final year of his contract to help the Rockets, they surely gave him  silent agreement that they would pay him the full max once his contract was up.

Paul landed a four-year deal worth $160 million, which was a gargantuan contract for an aging smaller guard, who appeared to be breaking down physically. The following season, Paul had career lows in scoring (15.6 points) and field goal percentage (41.9 percent), in addition to having an efficiency dip (56 percent true shooting).

It's been well documented that Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta wasn't thrilled about paying Paul's albatross of a deal, but challenges exist with trading a player on a $40 million annual number, as you have to essentially bring in as much salary as you're sending out.

The Rockets ultimately traded Paul (and four first-round picks) for one year of Russell Westbrook and the small ball era, before later trading Westbrook for John Wall, who was on a supermax deal.