With an even more wide-open Western Conference than was previously thought possibly, teams are shoring up their rosters to take a stab at reaching the NBA Finals next season.
In that vein, and with the relationship between James Harden and Chris Paul disintegrating in the Houston Rockets orbit, the Rockets are exploring trades but were denied by the New York Knicks in a recent attempt.
Knicks refuse trade offer to get Paul: report
The Knicks are working with a significant amount of cap space this summer while the Rockets are not. It set up a trade offer that the Knicks notably refused.
The Rockets recently explored trading Chris Paul into New York’s cap space, but the Knicks refused, according to league sources. Trading Paul would have positioned the Rockets to be a Clint Capela or Eric Gordon trade away from freeing up the cap space to sign Jimmy Butler, who league sources say they plan to pursue.
The 34-year-old Paul has the Rockets’ highest contract, with more than $124 million remaining on the books through 2021-22. His salary next season is $38.5 million — $2 million more than the Knicks current team payroll of $36.1 million for next year.
Paul has missed 24 games each of the past two seasons with injury and is in the midst of a performance dip in the court.
It was widely rumored during the second half of the season that the Knicks getting Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant was all but a done deal. That’s in doubt now after Durant’s Achilles injury and the Knicks are looking other places, including at NBA champion Kawhi Leonard.
Rockets ‘aggressive’ in pursuit of Jimmy Butler
The Rockets are reportedly ready to trade anyone on the roster as they try to get through the road block and win the Western Conference title. They’ll have to if they want to bring anyone in since they’re over the salary cap and Paul has already asked out.
According to the Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith, the Rockets are trying to clear room for Jimmy Butler.
Rockets are expected to pursue Butler and be aggressive in their pursuit. Seen as an ideal fit on both ends of court, and in helping push Rockets to the top of the wide-open West.
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) June 19, 2019
Butler intends to decline his player option with the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes last week. The four-time All-Star is seeking a max contract and has until June 29 to opt out. The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly among those interested in the star.
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