All along, it appeared the Houston Rockets were going to focus on chasing free-agent center Dwight Howard when July hit, but the Houston Chronicle reports that Clippers point guard Chris Paul won't be an alternative option -- he'll be an additional one.
Howard and Paul were called "targets No. 1 and 1A" by one source of the Chronicle, indicating the Rockets will go after both players simultaneously.
Houston has made its hopes of acquiring Howard obvious by attempting to clear cap space, and though landing one max contract free agent will be a tough task in itself for GM Daryl Morey, it appears the Rockets will go after another.
In recent weeks, Howard publicly assessed his free agency as a process to be explored. Intrigue regarding his plans takes a particular tone given his relationship with his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard's sometimes testy relationship with Kobe Bryant could be an issue, as could the return of head coach Mike D'Antoni, who at times failed to fit the center into his system.
Unlike Howard, Paul hasn't discussed his upcoming free agency. It seems likely Paul stays with the Clippers after the firing of coach Vinny Del Negro and reports that the team will consult Paul about the next hire. It all makes the idea of Paul leaving unlikely, especially when the Rockets need to open up more cap space to fit both Howard's expected $20.5 million salary and Paul's expected $18.7 million salary.
Nevertheless, it appears the Rockets will prepare a pitch to Paul while continuing to find ways to shed more payroll.