Why the Rockets should consider making an unthinkable move this summer

Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns - Game Three
Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns - Game Three / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets figure to be the most intricate team this NBA offseason, for more reasons than one. The Rockets hold a top-four pick that they've expressed interest in potentially moving for a proven player (possibly New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson) and they're armed with north of $60 million in cap space, which leads the league.

The Rockets' ability to spend big this summer has them linked to a bevy of players, including even the wildest of possibilities, such as Kyrie Irving, who the Dallas Mavericks traded for at the trade deadline just a few months ago. It had been rumored for months that the Rockets were going to devote a significant chunk of that cap space to Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden, as both the Rockets and Harden held interest in rekindling and making up for lost time.

The latest reports on that front suggest that Harden returning to the Space City isn't as much of a sure thing as many expected. The Rockets must pivot to another veteran playmaker in the event that Harden does indeed stay in the City of Brotherly Love, and they'd be wise to pursue another reunion, albeit with Chris Paul, who the Phoenix Suns have essentially given his walking papers.

Why the Rockets should consider making an unthinkable move this summer

We've talked about how the Rockets would be wise to sign Paul in the event that he's released on or before June 28th, when his 2023-24 salary becomes fully guaranteed. But the Rockets would face steep competition for his services as a free agent, and they'd have no guarantee that he would sign here.

With this being said, the Rockets should give serious thought to doing the unthinkable; granting the Suns a way to offload Paul to help them improve their roster. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Suns have registered interest in Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins and Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon, and the Rockets could be the key to making such a move happen.

"The Suns acquiring either of those veterans might require a third team to accept Paul’s outgoing salary — such as the Houston Rockets with their $60 million of cap space and counting."

In this scenario, the Rockets would be helping the Suns, which seems unimaginable. Especially for a team hoping to ascend into postseason play next season, meaning they'd need to leap frog one of the Western Conference postseason teams, which could prove to be difficult.

But the Rockets have to use their cap space and Paul has just two years remaining on his deal. In the same way that the Rockets were hoping to utilize Harden as a bridge, they could do the same with Paul, on a lower number.

And we know how valuable Paul has been as a veteran on a young, up-and-coming team. Paul would do wonders for Jalen Green, who has been compared to Paul's Phoenix Suns teammate Devin Booker, interestingly enough.

The Rockets could essentially use some of their cap space on Paul, knowing it will be freed up in a relatively short amount of time. This would also allow the Rockets to pursue their other rumored targets, such as Dillon Brooks and Brook Lopez, as they wouldn't have such a large chunk of their cap space tied up to Paul.

So although it's never quite the goal to help another team improve, the Rockets would walk away victorious in the theory thrown out by Fischer.