If the Houston Rockets thought they were going to retain injury-plagued guard Chris Paul on the cheap this summer, they were sorely mistaken.
Paul will hit free agency next month. That’s about a calendar year after he turned down a Stephen Curry-like five-year contract worth about $40 million annually from the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Paul’s decisions to turn down said deal and agree to a trade to Houston was a precursor to what he’ll demand from the Rockets this summer.
“When the Rockets made that deal for Paul, knowing they would re-sign him, they made a conscious decision that they were gonna have to live with a $46-47 million-a-year salary when he’s not nearly the player anymore in his late 30s,” Wojnarowski noted. “They said we’re gonna make a run at it now, we wanna win a championship now, we’ll deal with it later. We’ll see how that plays out in their contract talks here in free agency, but 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.”
At 33 years old, a long-term max deal would bring Paul into his age-38 season. Given that the guard has played 62 games or less three times in the past five seasons, that has to be somewhat of a concern.
Clearly set to make a play for LeBron James in free agency, Houston is slated to be just $18 million under the cap. This means the team will have to move the contracts of Ryan Anderson and/or Eric Gordon to make it work.
By re-signing Paul to a max contract at north of $40 million annually, the Rockets would be going well over the luxury tax.