D'Antoni stressed that the team will be utterly careful in bringing him back, judging by the fact that Paul has been plagued by hamstring setbacks since joining the Rockets. The most memorable occurrence came last season in the final two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Paul's fragile state is worthy of concern, given that he's already missed eight straight games with the injury and 13 of the team's initial 39 games of the season (33 percent) after being awarded a four-year, $160 million max contract in the summer.
The Rockets have managed to survive and go a crisp 7-1 through his absence. That comes in large part thanks to James Harden's array of fireworks during his stint as the lone back-court star, which has only helped build his case for the 2018-19 Most Valuable Player award.
Yet, Houston, we have a problem.
Harden is in the midst of the best scoring rampage of his professional life, but Rockets fans have seen him go off for incredible performances in the past, only to burn out when it counts the most in the playoffs. D'Antoni will need a healthy Paul and a rested Harden down the stretch if the Rockets have any aspirations of going far into the Western Conference playoffs. The team has clawed their way into the fifth spot in the West by emptying Harden's tank in a valiant effort to keep their playoff hopes alive.