Rockets Keep Paul, Green, Lose Ariza in First Weekend of Free Agency

Chris Paul returns to the Rockets next season, but the team will lose Trevor Ariza to free agency.
Chris Paul returns to the Rockets next season, but the team will lose Trevor Ariza to free agency. Photo by Jeff Balke
July 1 marks the start of free agency in the NBA and, as usual, it was a busy first day. In addition to the news last week that LeBron James would opt out of his deal with Cleveland and subsequent report of his signing with the Lakers, Paul George, who many thought would team with James in Los Angeles, re-signed with the Thunder.

But, enough about teams without a Houston before their names, what is happening with our home town Rockets?

Chris Paul Re-Signs

In what is likely the least surprising news of the offseason, point guard Chris Paul agreed to a four-year $160 million deal to stay in Houston. He even tweeted to that effect despite details of the deals not being immediately released. Paul was the first in a number of dominoes for the Rockets this summer. Four years means Paul will be 37 when his contract expires, but he should have a number of good years remaining in his career. Teaming with James Harden, he helped lead the Rockets to the best record in the NBA and was essentially a hamstring injury short of a trip to the NBA Finals.

Gerald Green Agrees to the Minimum

We all know how much Gerald Green loves Houston. He is a hometown guy and his resurgence after being signed in the middle of last season was at least in part fueled by his desire to do well here. But it was not a foregone conclusion that he would return. After a pleasantly surprising return from the literal couch last year, there would no doubt have been a number of teams calling. Still, Green chose to remain in Houston signing a one-year deal worth $2.4 million. Because he signed for the veteran minimum, only $1.5 million counts against the Rockets cap.

Trevor Ariza Leaves for the Suns

In their first loss of the offseason, Trevor Ariza signed a one-year $15 million deal with the Phoenix Suns. In truth, there was no reason to match the deal for the Rockets. That amount of money for a guy who was just OK from the three-point line and often downright bad when driving to the basket seems unreasonable for a team with eyes on a title. For everything that Ariza gave the Rockets defensively, it just wasn't enough to justify a deal that could have cost the Rockets a HUGE amount in luxury tax money.

What's next?

Twitter is abuzz with rumors about players signing, meeting and talking with teams across the league, including the Rockets. Though their pursuit of James is likely over and George has decided to stay in OKC, there are still important pieces to the puzzle. In addition to needing to re-sign Luc Mbah a Moute, a valuable swing player especially in light of the Ariza deal, the Rockets will wait to see if there are offers for Clint Capela, a restricted free agent who the Rockets will undoubtedly keep. Because he is restricted, the team has the right to match any offer and have said they would do as much for the talented young center.

Beyond that, the Rockets need shooting and, if possible, some backup help at the point guard position. They will have a difficult time unloading Ryan Anderson's contract, but if they are able, that would also be on the to-do shortlist. A lot should shake out of the next couple weeks so stay tuned.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke