Guard Chris Paul was told he had reached the date, six months after he had been traded from the Los Angeles Clippers, at which the Rockets could offer a contract extension. He said he was unaware of the date and showed little interest in it.

As president of the players association, he likely knew the rule that makes him eligible to sign his next contract. He might not have had the date circled on his calendar, with his return from a strained groin muscle a more immediate concern than his next contract, but he indicated those talks would wait.

"I've never done an extension in my career," Paul said. "I didn't sign one in New Orleans. I didn't sign one in L.A."

Asked if that means he will wait for summer, "Yeah, why not? I'm in no rush."

Though with the majority of the season and an entire team-defining postseason still to come, Paul's importance to the Rockets and the questions they will ask themselves already had become apparent.

Ideal for this offense

The Rockets are 15-2 in games Paul has played. He was on the floor 25½ minutes on Friday in accordance to the restriction he had in his first game back after missing the previous three games. The Rockets are 13-0 when he has played more than 26 minutes.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey have said Paul has meshed with James Harden and the Rockets' offense even more quickly than they had hoped.

"Chris was really born to play in an offense like this," Morey said.

But Paul has had two injuries in his first three months with the team. Morey, however, does not consider that a concern when he looks ahead to signing Paul, 32, to a long-term deal.

If he were to sign an extension, Paul would be eligible to earn as much as $132 million over four years. As a free agent, the Rockets could offer him as much as a five-year, $205 million deal, an especially significant investment in a player that will turn 33 this season.