Los Angeles Clippers Trade Chris Paul to Houston Rockets
We got the Woj Bombs of all Woj Bombs early Wednesday morning. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to trade point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. In return, the Rockets are sending Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and a 2018 draft pick to L.A.
CP3 Planned to Leave
According to Wojnarowski, Paul informed the Clippers that he planned to sign with Houston as an unrestricted free agent this summer. So, instead of losing him for nothing, the Clips decided to at least recoup a few assets. In order to facilitate the trade, Paul opted-in on his contract for the 2017-18 season that will pay him just over $24 million.
Earlier in the summer, Rockets GM Daryl Morey told ESPN that the Rockets have “something up their sleeve” when it came to trying to build a team capable of competing with the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. Evidently, he knew something was going on.
Wojnarowski notes that CP3 and Rockets guard James Harden were “determined” to play together, which led to this bombshell. Paul had until Wednesday to decide whether to opt-in to his deal for the 2017-18 season.
Paul, a nine-time All-Star, averaged about 18 points, nine assists and five rebounds per game last season with the Clippers. While it helps that they added a few capable rotation pieces in this trade, Paul’s departure casts doubt on the future of fellow free agents Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick. Now that the Clippers have lost their best player, there’s no telling whether Griffin or Redick will want to stick around.
Paul wanted to give the Clippers the chance to get something in return for his departure by informing them that he planned to sign with Houston outright. The Rockets retain cap flexibility next summer if the Paul/Harden fit does not wind up working out in the end. For LAC’s part, they get a very serviceable two-way replacement in Beverley, a microwave bench scorer in Williams and a decent prospect in Dekker. The 2018 first-round draft pick is also 1-3 protected.
Now, the Rockets have a core of Paul and Harden surrounded by capable contributors in Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. There’s still plenty of work to be done to fill out the roster around them, but Houston pretty clearly has closed the gap on Golden State with this trade from a talent perspective.
It remains to be seen how Houston’s offense works with a pair of ball-dominant guards. Harden was incredibly effective after switching to a full-time point guard role last season, but in all likelihood he’ll now flip right back over to the shooting guard spot. Mike D’Antoni now has two of the game’s elite playmakers at his disposal.
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