Can we all agree that the NBA offseason has been far more compelling and interesting when compared to the actual season?
As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Clippers have traded star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. In exchange, the Clippers will be receiving point guard Patrick Beverley, shooting guard Lou Williams, small forward Sam Dekker, and the Rockets’ 2018 first-round draft choice. Ancillary parts — such as Montrezl Harrell, DeAndre Liggins, and Kyle Wiltjer — may be added later in order to balance the finances.
After Chris Paul agreed to opt-in on contract, Clippers are trading All-Star guard to the Houston Rockets, league sources tell @TheVertical
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 28, 2017
This trade could ultimately shake up the landscape of not only the Western Conference, but the league as well. Houston is obviously making any and every attempt it can to catch the Golden State Warriors.
Let’s take a look at the winner and loser in this blockbuster deal:
Winner: Houston Rockets
The Rockets are big winners here. They received the best player in this trade by a very wide margin. Despite being 32 years of age, Paul is still an elite point guard in this league. His ability to manipulate the basketball with his intelligence makes him special. While he’s not Patrick Beverley on the defensive end of the floor, he’s more than adequate in this category.
When looking at this trade for the Rockets, they really didn’t give up all that much. We know Paul is a massive upgrade over Beverley. Williams is in the last year of his deal, and there wasn’t a guarantee that he’d stay with the team past this season. The bench will miss his scoring output — though this year’s Sixth Man of the Year (Eric Gordon) will return. Dekker is a promising wing, but couldn’t get off of the bench during the playoffs.
The pairing of Paul with James Harden is wildly fascinating. We assume Harden will return to his role as the team’s shooting guard. Each player is incredibly gifted as it pertains to creating for both themselves and for teammates. Essentially, the Rockets can have at least one of the two on the floor at all times.
With all due respect to the Warriors and the Washington Wizards, the Rockets now have the league’s best backcourt. While Harden and Paul are ball-dominant players, the collective intelligence of the duo should be able to figure things out on the offensive side of the floor.
Loser: Los Angeles Clippers
This is not a good scenario for the Clippers. The franchise was essentially unable to keep their prized asset around for the future.
The “Big Three” of Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan were unable to get over the hump in the playoffs. Injuries and inconsistency have culminated in a disappointing exit by the team’s figurehead. The management duo of Jerry West and Doc Rivers were ultimately forced into dealing their superstar player. The timing for this wasn’t great, and there are questions as to whether a better package could have been extracted.
Alas, the Clippers received an All-NBA defender in Beverley, one of the league’s best bench players in Williams, an unknown in Dekker, and a (projected to be) late first-round pick in 2018. Williams is under contract for one more season. Beverley and Dekker — both totaling less than $8 million annually — are signed for two more years.
No one is expecting this group of players to turn the Clippers into perennial contenders. While the franchise won’t publicly admit this, there’s certainly a thought to build towards the future. In 2018, the Clippers could have more than $70 million in cap space. This would enable them to hit the re-set button in terms of getting younger across the board. The fan base did “taste” winning for the first time in seemingly decades. They might have to wait a little while longer for that feeling to come back — especially if the team is unable to re-sign Griffin.
Image Sources: TSN, Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports, Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports