Chris Paul Is Traded to the Houston Rockets
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Paul’s contract was up, and he could have gone to the Rockets as a free agent. The Clippers worked out the deal so they could get something in return for him. The deal will enable Paul to make more money than he would have if he had left as a free agent.
The Clippers will receive Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a 2018 first-round pick, according to multiple news media reports. The deal will also open up cap space for them in the near future.
The deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
At 32, Paul is a nine-time All-Star. He will team with a bona fide superstar, James Harden, to give the Rockets a formidable lineup to try to challenge the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.
The Rockets were 55-27 last season, but fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs. The Spurs had also been reportedly interested in Paul.
This past season, Harden essentially became the Rockets’ regular point guard, shifting over from shooting guard. The move was a success: His assists per game soared to a league-leading 11 assists, while his scoring output remained steady. Now the team may have to rethink things with the arrival of Paul, one of the league’s premier point guards.
Stylistically Paul is an odd fit for Coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense. Thanks to Harden’s full embrace of D’Antoni’s system, the Rockets ran the third fastest offense in the N.B.A., averaging 102.5 possessions per 48 minutes. The Clippers were 17th at 98.2 possessions, which was in line with the last three seasons for the Clippers where the aging Paul guided a methodical attack that did not crack the top-ten in pace at any point despite the presence of offensive stars like Blake Griffin Jamal Crawford and Paul.
Paul’s age and injury history also make him somewhat of a risk. He played in 61 games last season, missing time because of surgery to his thumb, which was the third time in his career in which he missed 20 or more games. His ability to steal the ball frequently — he is the career leader in steals among active players — has contributed to problems with his fingers over the years.
The Clippers could see even further upheaval since Blake Griffin is also a free agent, and could choose to join forces with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in his hometown, Oklahoma City.
If he leaves, the Clippers will have lost their two top scorers, and although they still have DeAndre Jordan, it would seem to be the end of a successful era for the team. After years of lingering in the shadow of the Lakers, the Clippers finally surpassed them recently. The team has had five straight 50-win seasons, the first ones in its history. But it has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs.
Paul’s arrival in Los Angeles from the New Orleans Pelicans in December 2011 was shrouded in controversy. He initially was traded to the Lakers, but the league, which temporarily owned the Hornets, nixed the deal as unfair. A new deal to the Clippers was hastily arranged.