Rockets general manager Daryl Morey went on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, and said James Harden and Chris Paul are the only two players on Houston's roster who definitely will return next season.
"We've spent a lot of time putting together two superstars. We're trying to add a third," Morey said. "Going backward from that doesn't make a lot of sense to us.
"We're going after one of these top free agents, and because of that, it's probably gonna have to be a trade. It has to be through sign-and-trade."
So, which star is Houston pursuing? Brian Smith of The Houston Chronicle has the details:
The name at top of #Rockets' wish list as free agency approaches: Jimmy Butler.
Harden, Paul and Butler on same team next season, if Rockets can convince Butler to call Toyota Center his new NBA home.— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) June 19, 2019
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
In late October, the Rockets reportedly offered the Timberwolves four first-round draft picks for Butler. In the end, the 29-year-old was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Considering the uncertainty surrounding the Warriors right now, it makes sense for the Rockets to go after a player like Butler. But while it's entirely possible the Rockets are targeting the Houston native, it's hard to know what to believe at this point.
In late May, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that everybody on the Rockets was available via trade. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported that "[Chris] Paul went to Rockets management and demanded a trade, and [James] Harden issued a 'him or me' edict following the Rockets' second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors."
Soon thereafter, the following emerged:
Morey gave an example: Said he had Harden and Paul on face time with him as they discussed 50 free agents together. Said he has spoken to both players quite a few times since the season with no indications either has changed their stance. https://t.co/bnBJH6zt0J— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) June 18, 2019
Just spoke to Daryl Morey. He reiterated there has been no trade demand from Chris Paul. "Tweet that I said that. Print it. Tweet it twice." https://t.co/oo6ge0Wkop— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 19, 2019
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As Morey himself said Tuesday: "We've generated a lot of clicks in the last few weeks."
And the Rockets most likely will generate a lot more clicks in the coming weeks as well.