Chris Paul cares not for salary-cap gymnastics. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to the Houston Rockets anyway.
Consider what Adrian Wojnarowski said during ESPN’s Monday draft special (via NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman):
Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.
This storyline comes as a surprise to roughly nobody. Everyone thinks LeBron wants a real crack at beating the Kevin Durant-era Golden State Warriors. No team gives him a better shot of doing that over the next two or three years than the Rockets. (And maybe the Boston Celtics, but yeah.) They make sense if he’s looking to maximize his immediate window.
Getting to Houston, as we’ve written here before, will be difficult. The Rockets don’t have the tools to chisel out the necessary cap space unless they dump contracts for Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon while CP3 and LeBron accept pay cuts. Good luck convincing the president and vice president of the players’ union to welcome massive discounts. That would set a weird precedent.
Sign-and-trade scenarios are more likely. Most specifically, opt-in-and-trade scenarios are more likely, since they don’t tether the Rockets to a hard cap afterwards. But that means James has to pick up his player option before free agency. If he doesn’t do that, this idea can mostly be trashed.
If he does, though, then remain at the edge of your seat. Something major is afoot.