The Houston Rockets sent shock waves through the NBA on Wednesday when it was reported they had traded multiple players and a draft pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for All-NBA point guard Chris Paul.
The trade was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, who wrote:
The Rockets will send the Clippers guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, the non-guaranteed deals of DeAndre Liggins, Tim Quarterman and Ryan Kelly, and a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3) for Paul, league sources told The Vertical.
That’s a lot for one player, but the argument could easily be made that Paul is worth it.
Included in Paul’s accolades are nine All-Star teams, nine All-Defense teams, and eight All-NBA teams.
Widely regarded as one of the best point guards in the league and a future Hall of Famer, Paul will be teaming up with James Harden in Houston in an attempt to help the Rockets dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.
But how exactly is it going to work?
At the start of last season, the Rockets announced that Harden would be the team’s point guard and he returned the favor with the best season of his career.
Harden averaged career-highs in points (29.1), assists (11.2), and rebounds (8.1), numbers that would have been MVP-worthy had Russell Westbrook not finished the regular season averaging a triple-double.
Since the experiment worked, it was believed Harden would be the point guard of the future while Houston searched for a big man to team up with him.
Instead, the Rockets are hoping Paul’s presence creates a dynamic duo that is now in the conversation of the best backcourts in the league.
And Harden seems to be onboard.
While the Rockets had been “Harden’s team” since he arrived at the start of the 2012-13 season, various reports have indicated that he wouldn’t mind shifting back to the shooting guard position or sharing the point guard role to allow Paul to play in his natural position.
Harden also reportedly met with Paul to discuss what their roles would be in H-Town:
Earlier in the offseason, the most likely destinations for Paul seemed to be Los Angeles or San Antonio, as the Spurs and the 32-year-old had “serious” mutual interest, but “the chance to play off ball and share point guard duties with James Harden was more attractive,” according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Since his rookie season, Paul has been the best player on his team, so he will be entering uncharted territory by having to potentially play sidekick to Harden.
At the same time, Harden hasn’t had a player of Paul’s caliber to team up with since he arrived in Houston.
The two seem to have one thing in common, though — eyes on a ring.
Paul left more than $10 million on the table in allowing himself to be traded to what he believes will be a contender and Harden is willing to sacrifice being the star on his team for a shot at a championship.
Will Harden’s slash and get-to-the-rim offense compliment Paul’s patient mid-range and pass-first mentality? Or will they struggle to find a rhythm on the court?
They have some time to work on it, but one thing seems certain — if Paul and Harden get this figured out, the Rockets may have the fuel to propel into the Western Conference’s elite.