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Rockets To Pursue CP3 Long-Term

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Chris Paul will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while there are some flaws that might conceivably stop the Houston Rockets from committing big, long-term money to him – namely, his continued struggles with injuries and the fact he’ll be 33 by season’s end – the team plans to do just that.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has every intention of trying to re-sign Paul to a max deal and “wring everything from (James) Harden’s prime,” according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

“It will be up to Chris,” Morey told Lowe, “but we feel good about it.”

Paul could’ve opted out of his contract last summer, becoming an unrestricted free agent, opening up the opportunity to sign a five-year max contract worth upward of $200 million. But doing so would’ve made it close to impossible for the Rockets to acquire him, so instead he rolled the dice, opted into his final year, and engineered a trade to Houston.

So far, it’s looked like the right decision, with Paul and Harden meshing beautifully. The Rockets have rolled to an NBA-best 25-6 record (14-1 in games Paul has played in) to stake their claim as the most realistic challenger to the Golden State Warriors’ reign.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni shares Morey’s vision for the Rockets’ future.

“We think we have a five-year window with Chris and James,” D’Antoni told Lowe.

That window would take Paul through his age-38 season, but Houston may be looking to add another significant piece between now and then. Sources told Lowe that Morey will likely go after LeBron James in free agency this summer, which squares with recent reports that the Rockets hold a “strong belief” they can sign James if he opts to leave Cleveland a second time.

A move like that, however, would require some considerable cap gymnastics, given that James remains set on getting a max contract and not a penny less. The Rockets will also have to concern themselves with the free agency of burgeoning center Clint Capela, among others. And a playoff flop could dramatically change the accounting for all parties involved.

As of now, the Rockets are a force, Paul is happy, and the team is giving him every reason to stick around.

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