clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chris Paul traded to Rockets in blockbuster move before NBA free agency

Paul joins forces with James Harden to form the league’s toughest back court duo.

Los Angeles Clippers v Utah Jazz - Game Six Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to trade perennial all-star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, the teams announced Wednesday. In return, the Clippers receive Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, and a top-three protected 2018 first-round pick.

Paul opted-into the final year of his contract, making the trade a one-year experiment.

CP3 was expected to opt-out of his contract with the Clippers and test free agency, where he could have either re-signed in Los Angeles for five-year max deal worth more than $200 million or joined a contender. Instead, he joins James Harden in Houston in a blockbuster move that gives Houston the most back court firepower in the NBA.

Harden and Paul were determined to play with each other, according to Woj, with The Beard lobbying for the Rockets to deal for the all-star floor general on Tuesday.

Paul averaged 18 points, 9.2 assists, five rebounds, and two steals per game for the Clippers last season. But Los Angeles was bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row and failed to reach the Western Conference Finals for six consecutive seasons.

At 32 years old, Paul is competing for the NBA championship he has yet to earn in his illustrious NBA career. Joining the Rockets under head coach Mike D’Antoni affords him that opportunity.

Houston posted the third-best record in the NBA last season after Harden took over as point guard. He averaged 29.1 points and a league-leading 11.2 assists, orchestrating D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds or Less offense to the dismay of opposing defenses. In doing so, Harden led Houston to a West Semifinals appearance against the San Antonio Spurs, though they lost to a Gregg Popovich-led team without Tony Parker (ruptured quad in Game 2) and Kawhi Leonard, who missed Games 5 and 6 with an ankle injury.

The Rockets are now poised to deploy a starting lineup of Paul, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Clint Capela, with Eric Gordon — the league’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year — still available off the bench.

It will take time for the league’s newest dynamic duo to adjust.

Harden hasn’t played alongside another ball-dominant guard since his days next to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Paul, too, has never played with a guard as capable as Harden.

Historically, two ball-dominant guards haven’t had success playing with one another, and either one or both has to sacrifice aspects of their game for the better of the team. But Houston ran the bulk of its offense through pick-and-roll action last season. The Rockets now have two of the top-3 pick-and-roll passers in the league, according to Synergy Sports.

It could take some time, but Houston’s paired two of the best guards in the NBA. Now, the Rockets have positioned themselves to get over the hump and challenge the Warriors for the Western Conference crown.