Firstly, in case you somehow missed it, here’s the trade:
Houston Rockets get: G Chris Paul.
LA Clippers get: the following pupu sorty:
- G Patrick Beverley
- G Lou Williams
- F Sam Dekker
- F Montrezl Harrell
- F Kyle Wiltjer
- G DeAndre Liggins
- G Darrun Hilliard
- 2018 first-round pick (top-3 protected)
- Cash considerations
Houston Grade: Incomplete.
I’m not too worried about the fit issues here. Even at 32, Paul is still a gold standard point guard and you never say no to this kind of quality. Paul will find a way to fit in and improve this team as the second banana (or maybe third?).
That said, there has to be more coming for this trade (so far, a one year rental of Chris Paul) to make any sense. As it currently stands, Paul doesn’t even come close to turning the Rockets into contenders – particularly when you consider the defensive side of things and the fact that the highly underrated Harrell is now gone (yes, he’s only 23 and yes, he just posted a 19.2 PER last season).
Who’s defending Durant?
This is where things get interesting as it’s rumoured that Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are under consideration.
If they manage to get George, then I’m giving this trade an A+. They’ll have the playmaking in Harden and Paul, defense in George, Ariza and Capela, added firepower in Anderson and Gordon – and a decent shot at rattling the Warriors and Spurs.
If they get Anthony, then I’m giving this trade a C+. Anthony is still a decent player, but he:
- is no superstar (and never was one);
- just turned 33;
- has noticeably slowed down;
- has a questionable attitude towards team goals; and
- most importantly, can’t defend a traffic cone, let alone Kevin Durant (or anyone else on the Warriors that they might try to hide him on).
While adding Paul and Anthony would probably make the Rockets better overall, there would be no way to take the Rockets as serious contenders. And what would that mean when Paul becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season?
If the Rockets make no further moves, then the grade would be a C. All of the above regarding Anthony would still apply, albeit they’d be without Anthony’s offense. Would Paul really stick around after another year of being miles off the pace – or does he go and join LeBron… wherever that might be?
It’s all or nothing for the Rockets here and I for one couldn’t be happier. The idea that everyone should just roll over, wait for the Warriors to stop being good and time their windows is horseshit. Good on Morey and the Rockets I say.
LA Clippers Grade: A
As a Clippers fan, it’s sad to see the end of the Chris Paul era. He gave credibility to an organisation that had never experienced any such thing. Ever. For that he should be thanked.
However, after six seasons, for various reasons, he couldn’t quite make it to the conference finals. In the beginning, a lot of it was down to bad luck with injuries. However, towards the end, it was more:
- bad design (yes, I’m looking at you Doc);
- bad play – Paul’s infamous flame out against OKC in 2014 and the Clippers’ complete train wreck against the Rockets in the conference semis in 2015 really stick in the mind here; and
- the fact that the the league has changed so dramatically over the last few seasons, leaving short armed, defensively challenged power forwards like Griffin and shooting incompetent centers like Jordan behind – to the point where their trade value as stars is very much in question.
The fact is, the Clippers’ days as contenders with a core of Paul, Griffin, Jordan and Redick were over some time ago. Paul knew it, new Clippers ‘advisor’ Jerry West knew it and everyone else except Doc knew it.
In the circumstances, getting the likes of Williams (30, 15.4 PER last season), Dekker (22, 13.1 PER), Beverly (28, 13.0 PER) and Harrell (23, 19.2 PER) is a pretty damn good haul – especially considering that Paul could have walked for free (it looks like he wants to put this new Rockets experiment on probation for a year).
Another thing is that when you reverse engineer the trade, you get the following very interesting result:
(NB: I had to stick the ever-useless Wesley Johnson in there in place of Liggins to make the salaries work – you tell me that it makes any difference).
Obviously, the issue for the Clippers now is what to do with Griffin and Jordan. Jordan’s in the last guaranteed year of his deal before his player option for 2018-19 kicks in. Word has it he’ll decline that option and become an unrestricted free agent. Meanwhile, Griffin has serious durability issues.
If they can get a return on these two that’s anything like what they got for Paul, they may just be in a position to credibly rebuild on the fly like Boston did. Alternatively, given that the Clippers’ draft cupboard is reasonably clean, blowing the whole thing up and stinking for a bit might not be so bad either.
All I can say is thank goodness Doc isn’t calling the shots on these issues any more.