Are Rockets Challengers to Warriors by Trading for Chris Paul?

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 4:14 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017 4:14 PM UTC

Stunning trade in the NBA on Wednesday as the Los Angeles Clippers have traded superstar point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, where he will play alongside James Harden. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?

Things were supposed to be fairly quiet in the NBA until Saturday when free agency opens. So much for that. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Clippers broke up their core by sending arguably the greatest all-around point guard in the NBA, Chris Paul, a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA player and a nine-time All-Defensive team member, to the Houston Rockets.

Why would Los Angeles trade Paul? He reportedly told the team he planned to sign with Houston in free agency because Paul wants to win a ring and play with his buddy James Harden. Paul has never gotten past the conference semifinals in his NBA career. The 32-year-old agreed to opt in to the final year of his $24.2 million contract, clearing the way for the Clippers to at least trade him for assets. Houston is giving up guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forward Sam Dekker and a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3). Beverley and Williams are solid players, but this is obviously a heist for the Rockets.

Now Houston has an incredible backcourt in Paul and Harden, the 2016-17 NBA MVP runner-up. It’s an interesting move, though, because Harden was the team’s primary ball-handler last season and had one of the great statistical seasons in league history, averaging 29.2 points, a league-best 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds. In almost every other season, Harden wins NBA MVP with those numbers. Alas, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double. You don’t trade for Paul and not make him the ball-handler, so Harden won’t be leading the NBA in assists again. 

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Is this enough for Houston to potentially knock off the Warriors in the Western Conference? No. The Rockets had been +2500 on NBA futures to win the 2018 NBA title and have only dropped as of now to +1500. As good as Paul and Harden are, they are just two stars to Golden State’s four of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Houston’s projected starting five of Paul, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela simply doesn’t match up. Maybe GM Daryl Morey has another big move up his sleeve.

The big loser in this trade other than the Clippers (now +10000 to win NBA title)? The San Antonio Spurs, who were hoping to lure Paul in free agency.

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Clippers fans looking ahead to next season

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