But with Paul on an expiring contract, his future in Houston is a major question.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
“We’ve had high-level discussions [with Paul about his future],” Morey told The Crossover, noting that Harden’s recent $228 million extension provides a “signaling aspect” to other stars that Houston caters to its marquee players. “[Paul] hopes to continue with Houston. He likes the team, the organization and the city. In terms of him actually signing long-term, that’s something that won’t be decided until next year.”
Paul opted into a $24,599,495 salary – well below the $34,682,550 max he could’ve received in free agency – to facilitate his trade from the Clippers to the Rockets.
Of course, he hopes to continue with Houston – on a lucrative long-term deal. I’d be shocked if and Morey didn’t discuss parameters before the trade.
But there’s a season to play out first, so both sides are taking a risk.
As Morey said, James Harden‘s historic contract extension shows the Rockets take care of their stars. Morey furthered that image by continuing his campaign for Harden to win 2015 and 2017 MVPs. But Leslie Alexander is selling the team, creating tremendous uncertainty about its commitment to spending under new ownership.
From the other side, Paul will evaluate how he plays with Harden. It’s a tricky fit for two players so used to dominating the ball.
Everyone surely hopes it goes well – Paul stays healthy, meshes seamless with Harden, and Houston wins a lot. At that point, re-signing Paul to a big contract would be a no-brainer for both sides.
But if it doesn’t go well, Paul or Houston has an out after this season.
It’s good that they’ve already talked about the future, but this is a high-stakes unknown.