Chris Paul is going to the Houston Rockets. A day after ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Houston was “an increasingly serious threat” to sign Paul, the Rockets completed a trade that will give them a second superstar.
Houston traded Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and a top-3 protected first round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft for Paul. Paul is opting in to his current deal which means he will be under contract in Houston for one season.
James Harden, who would stand to lose touches to Paul, was actually the one leading the charge. Harden, according to Stein, let Paul know he is pushing the front office to sign him when his unrestricted free agency begins in July.
Paul was viewed as the biggest fish in the free agent pond this summer. The Clippers could have offered Paul a five-year deal worth around $203 million via the Over-38 Rule he lobbied for as NBPA president. Any other team can offer four years at around $148 million.
But Los Angeles bottomed out following yet another unsuccessful postseason. After finishing the regular season 51-31, Blake Griffin’s injured big toe cost the Clippers their first-round playoff series against the Jazz. It marked the second year in a row injuries ousted Los Angeles in the opening round and the sixth consecutive season the Clippers failed to advance past the second round.
Now, at age 32, Paul looks to pursue an opportunity to win a championship in Houston. Despite his age, CP3 still averaged 18 points, 9.2 assists, five rebounds, and two steals for the Clippers last season. He has consistently remained one of the league’s best point guards as he ages into his mid-30s.
Why this makes sense
When you look at Mike D’Antoni’s track record with point guards, you have to admit the man’s got a gift. He took Raymond Felton and turned him into a fringe all-star in New York. He took Jeremy Lin and helped him earn $35 million from Houston in 2012 before the giant cap boom. He took a shooting guard in Harden and turned him into runner-up MVP.
What happens when D’Antoni actually gets his hands on an actual all-star?
The Rockets were a really good team last season, but they lost to a Spurs team without Tony Parker after Game 2 and short Kawhi Leonard after Game 5. There’s a visible drop-off in talent after Harden. Adding Paul would help put the Rockets over the hump.
Why this doesn’t make sense
There’s a saying that reads “too many cooks spoil the broth,” and Harden is the master chef in Houston. Harden is most effective with the ball in his hands. It’s the reason he owned the league’s fifth-highest usage rate last season.
Paul is also most effective when calling the shots. He’s a pick-and-roll maestro, a dime-dropper, and a masterful shot creator off the dribble.
Adding another ball-dominant playmaker — especially one with the propensity to dribble the ball into oblivion like Paul — could disrupt the chemistry the Rockets worked hard to establish last season.
Another adage? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
How excited are we about this deal? 10/10
Houston showed there was a method to its madness of getting up the court, spacing the floor beyond contest and heaving up threes. Adding Paul tampers with what made the Rockets a special team last season because they would have to forfeit so much of their depth for a player whose offensive role is already occupied in Harden.
In the end, the Rockets needed to do anything possible to land another superstar. Now they have one. It will be fascinating to watch.