Stephen A. Smith

NBA rumors: Chris Paul wants out of Houston, Stephen A. Smith hears


NBA rumors: Chris Paul wants out of Houston, Stephen A. Smith hears

Houston, you have a problem.

The James Harden-Chris Paul arrangement on the Rockets could be ending soon.

And it comes at a bad time for the Rockets, who now could have a chance for the 2020 NBA championship with the Warriors licking their wounds from a brutal Finals loss.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith dropped this bit of news on his radio show Friday while talking to NBA insider Brian Windhorst.

"In the end, it's this: With Kevin Durant out, with Klay Thompson out for most of the season, one could argue the Houston Rockets now have a window to get to the NBA Finals," Smith said. "But you're also hearing Chris Paul wants out, Chris Paul wouldn't mind going somewhere else, preferrably LA, maybe, we don't know, with LeBron. We don't know. But you're hearing he wants out."

Smith dropped the "Los Angeles" nugget before the Lakers agreed to acquire All-Star big man Anthony Davis in a trade with the Pelicans on Saturday.

The Lakers will have between $27 million and $32 million left in salary-cap space, so they could try to acquire Paul to fill their point guard hole. But the New York Times reported that the Lakers have their eyes on free agent Kemba Walker, a much younger option.

Paul's remaining contract could be an issue, though. He's owed $38.5 million in 2019-20, just over $41 million in 2020-21 and just over $44 million in 2021-22.

"I would never say that CP3's untradeable," Windhorst said. "He's tradeable, for sure. But he's not tradeable in a way that makes their team better."

If the Rockets break up their two-headed monster, you can give the Warriors a large hand in causing its demise. Golden State has ended Houston's season each of the last two years. The Rockets believed they were better than the Warriors, but each season, they were proven wrong.

[RELATED: Lakers start arms race to dethrone Warriors]

Under the Warriors' watch, the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, broke up. The LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers broke up after four consecutive NBA Finals matchups. Soon, the Rockets could be the next team to come crashing down because they were unable to get past Golden State.

Where Steph Curry, Kevin Durant rank in Stephen A. Smith's NBA top five

Where Steph Curry, Kevin Durant rank in Stephen A. Smith's NBA top five

Whether you're a fan or an analyst, everyone has their own rankings of the best players in their respective sport. As the NBA evolves with more and more unique talent, it's become incredibly hard to slot basketball's best players.

On Wednesday morning, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed his top five, and it likely will make Warriors fans both happy and angry.

Starting off Stephen A's top five is Warriors guard Steph Curry. There's no doubt that Dub Nation believes he should be ranked higher than that.

"Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in the history of basketball," Smith said on ESPN's First Take. "No, he's not an elite defender. But his offense, his shot, is so potent, it affects defenses. It affects you defensively because it makes opposing offenses panic and tighten, because they know if they miss, he's getting the ball back, and it's lights out." 

The Warriors have a team full of All-Stars but only one more player on Smith's big board. It's Kevin Durant, who's No. 1, one spot ahead of LeBron James.

"He is arguably the most unstoppable offensive force in basketball, and he's one of those rare individuals that has the opportunity to be the all-time leading scorer in NBA history when everything is said and done," Smith said of KD. 

[RELATED: How Warriors can benefit from Raptors hounding Curry]

Durant currently sits No. 31 on the NBA's all-time career points list with 22,940, well behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's mark of 38,387. 

The Warriors must continue to face the Raptors in the NBA Finals with only one top-five player, as Durant remains out with a strained right calf.

NBA Finals: Stephen A. Smith not betting money on Raptors to beat Warriors

NBA Finals: Stephen A. Smith not betting money on Raptors to beat Warriors

Hopefully for the Golden State Warriors and their fans, there's no such thing as a "Stephen A. Smith curse."

Because if there is, he's just given the kiss of death to the Warriors' three-peat hopes.

In the moments after the Toronto Raptors eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night, Stephen A joined Sportsnet's Eric Smith and was asked if the Raptors have a chance to dethrone the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

"With Kawhi Leonard, you always have a chance, but I'm not betting my money on Toronto," Stephen A said. "I've got them losing this series."

But Stephen A was quick to point out his own mistake when making a pick prior to the start of the Eastern Conference finals.

"Let's keep in mind I was wrong, because I thought Milwaukee would beat them at the beginning until I saw Game 3," Stephen A said. "Bottom line is Milwaukee has a problem hitting perimeter shots. I think everyone on Planet Earth and beyond knows the Golden State Warriors don't have a problem hitting perimeter shots. That's your No. 1 problem if you're the Toronto Raptors."

With Kevin Durant out because of a right calf strain, the Warriors' offense has been running through Steph Curry. Over the last five full games without Durant, Curry is averaging 35.8 points and attempting more than 14 3-pointers per game.

While Milwaukee has players who can knock down 3-pointers, their offense ran through Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is not much of an outside threat.

"[The Warriors] don't really have to deal with you in terms of going down low," Stephen A said. "They can beat you from 3-point range all over the place. That's your dilemma, that's what you're going to have to deal with, and it's going to be real interesting to see what they do with that.

‚ÄĚI've got Steph Curry and Klay Thompson exploding, and the only way they can be stopped is if you stop them from hitting baskets. Offense outscoring them ain't going to get it done. You've got to stop Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Otherwise, you're going home in five games."

[RELATED: Warriors-Raptors NBA Finals preview]

Stephen A has a point. WIth the way Curry played in the Western Conference finals, if Thompson finds his shot early in the NBA Finals, it could be a short series. If Thompson finds his shot AND Durant then returns midway through the series, Toronto could find itself in a world of hurt.

The safe bet is to put your money on the back-to-back defending champs.