The Houston Rockets have won at least 53 games in five of the last six seasons, but they've yet to make a Finals appearance due in large part to the Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry and Co. have eliminated the Rockets four times in the playoffs during that run, including both of the past two seasons. Unable to get past their rivals, it appears that GM Daryl Morey is ready to shake things up.
In a recent edition of his newsletter, the New York Times' Marc Stein reported that the Rockets are evaluating potential trade options for everyone on the roster besides James Harden, and that one of Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker or Gerald Green won't be on the team next season.
Now, not only does it appear that either Gordon, Tucker or Green are on their way out, it's also been reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that the Rockets have held preliminary trade discussions involving former All-Star guard Chris Paul and starting center Clint Capela, who was signed to a five-year, $90 million deal prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
Charania states the following in his recent trade chatter article.
"The Rockets have had conversations around Capela — and had preliminary conversations about All-Star Chris Paul, including discussing Paul deals with teams that have the necessary cap space to absorb his three years and $125 million after the free-agency moratorium in July, league sources said. Rockets GM Daryl Morey said publicly that the team does not plan to trade Paul."
It's worth noting that Stein had referenced that the Rockets were making everyone on their roster available -- with the exception of Harden.
The Rockets are indeed shopping everyone on the roster not named Harden. The complexities involved in moving Chris Paul, who at age 34 has three years and nearly $125 million left on his contract, have Houston officials actively exploring the trade market for Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker.
Charania's report comes just a couple weeks after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Morey is prepared to make the entire Rockets roster, plus future draft picks, available for trade.
Though unlikely, Wojnarowski notes in his story that even Harden could be had for a crazy offer, but presumably the intent here is to potentially go back to the drawing board in terms of Harden's support system. The three years, $124 million left on Chris Paul's contract would seem to be a tough sell for a player pretty clearly in decline, but the idea is that Paul has more left in the tank than he was able to show as Harden's increasingly marginalized sidekick and could still help a team ready to win right now.
As for Clint Capela, he's on a very enticing contract that has four more years left on it at an average annual salary of $18.5 million. Given his age (turned 25 in May) and production -- which has been absolutely elite in long stretches and against some of the better players in the league -- there are a lot of teams that would love to have a guy like that locked up long term at that price.
Considering the Warriors are clearly in a state of decline with the injuries of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Rockets' window for a championship may be re-opened -- which means Morey clearly has to make some moves to shake up this roster, especially following the Los Angeles Lakers' recent acquisition of All-Star big man Anthony Davis.