By Mark Strotman | | 4 mins
Despite Problems, Houston Still 2020 NBA Title Contender
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It wouldn’t be an NBA offseason without turmoil in Houston. After being knocked out of the postseason by the Golden State Warriors for a second straight season, there’s unrest and unknowns about the future of the franchise.
They’re heading into a critical offseason in which significant pieces could be moved as Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey try to shift parts around to unlock the Rockets’ best shot at winning a title.
Here's the latest on the headlines that should be noted by fans of NBA betting.
Oddsmakers not Concerned with Houston Strife
Oddsmakers clearly believe cooler heads will prevail. James Harden isn’t going anywhere and the Rockets are still going to field a contender, regardless of who his supporting cast is.
That’s why Houston still has +800 odds on 888Sport, tied with Golden State for the fourth best odds in the NBA (and second in the West behind the Lakers’ +350 odds). Their over-under win total has been set at 53.5M, a win better than they were a year ago. The Rockets aren’t going to fall off a cliff because of some offseason rumblings, and oddsmakers know it.
Does Chris Paul Want Out?
Whether Chris Paul is part of the title chase next season remains to be seen. He reportedly wants out of Houston because he can’t co-exist with Harden, though Rockets GM Daryl Morey refuted that report almost instantly and Paul took to Instagram to deny that he requested a trade.
A thoroughly exasperated Daryl Morey said Chris Paul and his reps have never asked to trade him and he will be on Rockets next season. Said he and Harden do not have issues with one another and that he has spoken to both often this off-season about free agency evaluations, plans.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) June 18, 2019
The reality is the Rockets are a better team with Paul and also that his contract is essentially untradeable. It was odd to see Houston give the 33-year-old a four-year, $160 million contract in free agency last offseason. With three years and $124 remaining, and Paul showing some signs of regression, it’s hard to see anyone dealing for the veteran point guard.
Paul is still chasing that elusive championship ring. His best bet to do it is in Houston.
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Rockets to ‘Aggressively Pursue’ Jimmy Butler
There’s some irony in the Rockets internally feuding while also wanting to go after Jimmy Butler, who has essentially blown up two different locker rooms during his career. But the Rockets also see Butler as someone who could put them over the top in the West, so they plan to ‘aggressively pursue’ him this summer.
The Rockets are over the salary cap so they’d need to send back significant salary in a sign-and-trade (Butler is a free agent), but a combination of Harden, Butler, Paul, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon would be as good a core as there is in the league.
Despite those reports, it’s still likely Butler is playing elsewhere next season. The Sixers are overwhelming favorites to retain Butler at -225, with the Knicks and Lakers also lurking.
Clint Capela on Trade Block?
Maybe some fresh new faces would inject life into the Rockets. Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler reported last week that Clint Capela could be dangled during draft week in an attempt for Houston to move up into the top-20 of the first round.
The Celtics, owners of picks Nos. 14, 20 and 22, could be an option, especially with it looking like Al Horford won’t be re-signing in Boston.
Stay tuned. Houston is going to have a wild offseason.