It just became public that Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul has been traded to the Houston Rockets in return for Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and Sam Dekker. It’s also been reported that Blake Griffin has become a target for Houston, hoping to bring the dynamic duo from Los Angeles.
I, personally, am quite sceptical about this trade, on Houston’s end, anyway. For the Clippers, this is a great trade, possibly the best scenario for them. Chris Paul had already chosen to opt out of his contract in LA, although this was not to become reality until the 1st of July, meaning he was still a Clipper until this trade took place. So, Dave Wohl is obviously thinking that he needs to get something for a superstar like Paul, and chooses to target the Rockets’ three role players as a means of replacing his point guard. Now, LA have possibly the best defensive guard in the league, who can shoot off the catch fairly efficiently, an incredible source of off-the-bench firepower in Lou Williams, a finalist for the 2017 Sixth Man of the Year award, losing out to Houston team mate Eric Gordon. The Clippers also pick up Sam Dekker, a “3 and D” forward who could potentially replace Blake Griffin when he leaves, as he also opted out of his contract shortly after Paul did so. And for LA, this is the best case scenario, as they pick up 3 valuable role players, all for a player who was leaving for free in half a week anyway.
For Houston, they did not did a great job on this trade. I mean, yes, they picked up a superstar point guard, a player who is often referred to as the “Point God,” due to his incredible ability to see the floor and pass-first mentality. But they gave up 3 very valuable role players, with the exception of Sam Dekker, who, proven by this season, doesn’t have any significant value to Mike D’Antoni’s system. But Pat Beverley and Lou Will were vital in this season’s success for Houston, particularly Beverley’s stifling defense against Harden’s MVP peer Russell Westbrook. Lou Williams provided much needed firepower off the bench for the Rockets, but could be expendable if sharpshooter Eric Gordon brings last season’s form into next season. Considering Paul wished to come to Houston, the Rockets could have gotten him for literally nothing, as he opted out and, come July 1st, would have been free to go anywhere he pleased on a free transfer, with Houston being his desired destination. I, and many others, believe that Houston’s decision to lose the 3 players, particularly Beverley, a much loved member of the Rockets’ squad, was entirely unnecessary, and was a terrible move by Houston’s front office
And who knows if CP3 will even fit in, in Houston. We know that Paul can be a playmaking force when he’s in the pick and roll, a much loved play of offensive guru Mike D’Antoni, and can tear up defences when he has a big man like Capela, who can roll off screens and catch lobs consistently. But the key part of this; Paul needs the ball in his hands. Houston superstar and two-time MVP runner-up James Harden also proved to a playmaking mastermind since being assigned to the point guard position, but he also needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Both players are accustomed to having the ball in their hands on offense, whether they’re making plays for others or knocking it down themselves. This could prove to be an issue in Houston, particularly with Harden showing his passing vision last season after leading the league in assists per game, meaning that he now knows that he can move the ball better than most players in the NBA. But, CP3 and Harden have some playing experience on Team U.S.A, and have seemed to play well together for the national squad when they’re on the floor together. Maybe it can work, I really hope it does, being a Houston fan myself. Maybe D’Antoni will throw Harden and CP3 together in the pick and roll, a strategy which could potentially work if done correctly. If this happens, Houston could become a serious contender, as I believe the Rockets were only one superstar away from being a threat in this league, and only time will tell if Chris Paul is that superstar.