Houston’s season came to a screeching halt on Monday after suffering a Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. It was a disappointing finish for a Rockets team that earned the best regular-season record in the NBA and came minutes from upsetting the reigning champions, but Chris Paul has wasted no time sulking.
Instead, according to the New York Times, Paul has channeled his energy towards recruiting free agent to-be LeBron James. Via Marc Stein:
Don’t get me wrong: There will still be plenty of talk over the next two weeks about what James will do July 1 and the growing belief that he’ll be leaving his home-state Cavaliers this offseason to join a team better suited to consistently challenge Golden State. Rest assured that the Rockets’ understandably devastated Chris Paul — who made a fast exit from Toyota Center late Monday night after being forced to watch the biggest game of his life from the bench because of his hamstring injury — has already begun his recruitment of James to Houston.
James, of course, is at the final peak of his NBA season. He and the Cavaliers will begin Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday against the Warriors, which means that despite Paul’s best efforts, his pitch may fall on deaf ears given his current situation that requires intense focus.
And even if James is receptive to Paul’s pitch, you likely won’t be hearing about it. James has always marched to the beat of his own drum; when it comes to free agency, he never telegraphs his decision. When he left Cleveland for Miami in 2010, it stunned everyone. And when he made the reverse trip back from Miami to Cleveland four years later, it was equally as surprising. So whatever choice he makes this summer is likely to induce the same effect, if history tells us anything.
Houston could be a good fit for LeBron, though. Cleveland’s roster is obviously flawed, and James’ greatness, which has carried the Cavaliers to the Finals each year since he’s returned, may not be enough to make a contender next season and beyond with Philly and Boston both emerging as powers in the East. Paired with Paul and James Harden, James could age gracefully in a Rockets uniform without exerting the same effort a franchise like Houston may require of him.
And that may be the ultimate pitch for Paul who, at 33, would also benefit from another bona fide playmaker. Adding a player the caliber of LeBron’s stature could allow Paul to fall gracefully into a post-prime NBA twilight in pursuit of a common goal: Defeating the Warriors.