As we prepare for free agency in the NBA, there are plenty of big name players that will be available. There’s no doubt that the Houston Rockets are going to pursue Dwight Howard, but what may surprise you is sources close to the Rockets say the team plans a similar and simultaneous pursuit of Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul.
Howard has been quoted saying he will explore his options but has been in contact with Rockets players James Harden and Chandler Parsons.
What some may not know is that Harden is even closer to Chris Paul from their time together on the USA Basketball senior national team.
As good as this sounds, with Howard’s interest in the Rockets, that could also make it more difficult to sign Paul. With the Clippers’ coaching change, they likely will be able to provide a coaching staff that would help entice Paul to stay in L.A.
The Rockets would have work to do to create enough salary-cap room with the first season of Howard’s contract being worth as much as $20.5 million. Chris Paul’s could start at around $18.7 million. Though this would be tough, the Rockets would have little concern that they would be able to offer a max contract. Trading Thomas Robinson, a 6-10 forward, is considered the most likely means to get enough cap room, but according to a person with knowledge of their plans, “there are about 20 other ways.”
Among the bigger names in free agency this summer, there are still some talented vets oozing with experience and leadership. Chauncey Billups has only played 42 games with the Los Angeles Clippers the past two seasons due to injuries. With a full offseason to heal, there is no denying that Billups couldn’t provide terrific veteran leadership for a young club, or stabilize the back court of a contender.
Derek Fisher comes in as a 16-year veteran who has played just 53 games over the last two seasons between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder. As with any veteran he comes with experience; however, Fisher has seen nearly every aspect of the game. He has witnessed the glory of an NBA title (five) to the helpless feeling of possibly facing the end of your career before you’re ready. The guy knows what it takes and can certainly still play the game.
Kenyon Martin is an interesting option for teams in search of a big man. The 6’9” power forward is coming off an injury plagued season with an ailing knee and sprained ankle. While he only played 18 regular season games, he averaged 23.9 minutes per game and a career high .602 field goal percentage. He provides excellent size and presence down low, with a pedigree for rebounding and could provide a palpable contribution.
The perfect balance of young talent and veteran leadership is integral for the success of professional franchise. Some of these veterans may be over the hump in their careers, but they’re certainly not over the hill.
Free Agency begins July 1st.