What should the Rockets be willing to give up to trade for Chris Paul?

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets - Game One
Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets - Game One / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

There have been contradicting reports regarding Chris Paul's future with the Phoenix Suns in a relatively short period of time, as Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported Wednesday that the Suns intend to release the future Hall of Famer, while Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Suns haven't made a decision regarding Paul's future yet shortly thereafter.

Regardless of who you believe, the fact remains that the Suns and Paul could very well be parting ways, irrespective of whether the Suns choose to waive him or trade him. And as it pertains to the Houston Rockets, the fact remains that they need a floor general and want a veteran to occupy that role.

If the Suns decide to trade him and the Rockets miss out on James Harden this summer, their top target, the Rockets could find themselves negotiating with the Suns for a reunion with Paul. And especially if they believe Paul would go elsewhere if he became a free agent (which he certainly would), as they wouldn't want to miss out on potentially two of the best veteran floor generals on the market.

What should the Rockets be willing to give up to trade for Chris Paul?

But what could those negotiations look like? Assessing Paul's value could be tricky, as he's coming off one of his least productive seasons, with averages of 13.9 points and 8.9 assists. And I haven't even mentioned the health concerns that exist with Paul, as he missed 23 regular season games and the final three games of the Suns' Western Conference Semifinals matchup against the Denver Nuggets due to injury.

Recent trades involving veteran point guards bode well for the Rockets' chances of not having to give up anything significant via trade for the 38-year-old Paul. For example, the Boston Celtics sent a 2023 first-round draft pick, along with several prospects and the rights to Daniel Theis to the Indiana Pacers to land Malcolm Brogdon last summer.

The Los Angeles Lakers traded essentially a 2024 second-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves to land point guard D'Angelo Russell at the trade deadline this past season (as part of a much larger multi-team deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz). Paul could seemingly be had at the cost of second-round draft capital, which the Rockets should be willing to part with for two years of Paul at $60.8 million total, including a non-guaranteed season in year two.

Keep in mind that the Suns traded a first-round pick for Paul in 2020, despite him coming off an All-NBA season in 2019-20 with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Surely his value has dropped since then, especially in light of the aforementioned injury concerns.

If the Suns were faced with the possibility of losing Paul for nothing or getting some value in return, they'd be inclined to move Paul for a later-round pick. And although Paul may have hard feelings for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta for reportedly stating that his four-year $160 million contract was the worst in all of sports, he'd make much less on the open market than what he's owed for the next two years.

If the Suns rebuff this theoretical package, in hopes of landing a first-round pick, the Rockets should then decide to move on and turn to one of the other options at floor general on the market. The Suns wouldn't be in a position of leverage to demand a first-round pick, because no contending team would offer that if they know they could land him on the free-agent market without giving up anything.

For the price of a second-round pick, both the Rockets and the Suns could strike a mutually beneficial deal.