Chris Paul is a Houston Rocket. What the fuck? In a move that has sent shockwaves across the NBA, the Houston Rockets have acquired Chris Paul ( Point God, one of the best point guards of his generation) in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, and a protected 2018 first-round pick (Top 3 protected). Setting aside the initial shock, let’s break it down:

  1. The Fit is Not as Big a Concern as Most Seem to Believe

Daryl Morey has always operated under the notion to acquire talent and allow the chemistry to work itself out. Some have disagreed with this approach but the NBA is, perhaps more so than any other major professional sport, talent driven. In this particular trade, the Rockets acquired the most talented player, there is no doubt about that and I am under the belief that the chemistry will work itself out.

Just as Lebron – Wade and Bosh worked out or KD – Curry – Draymond and Klay found its way to coexist so to will the Harden – CP3 duo. Immediately detractors may bring up the Dwight – Kobe – Nash superteam that was a colossal failure (also under Mike D’Antoni’s coaching by the way) but I’d argue that was an anomaly based on Nash spending that year injured and a shell of his MVP self and Dwight as he has proven in his stops since LA that he, himself is a locker room cancer that on presence alone kills chemistry.

But who will have the ball? Both are ball dominant guards. Didn’t Houston learn anything from the Ty Lawson debacle? First, Chris Paul is 100x the player Lawson was even at his very peak. Paul is also a far better defender than Lawson and as someone who has watched Harden drag the likes of Omer Asik, Josh Smith, and Ryan Anderson to wins by single-handedly creating all the offense, I have no doubt Harden appreciates having someone run the offense and create shots.

The same sentiment goes for Paul who, coming from a Clipper team where he was responsible for orchestrating everything, will undoubtedly appreciate having someone else take the keys on occasion. Undoubtedly there will be some friction in the early stages as the two work out the kinks but having two guys capable of taking over games is a luxury, not a detriment.

Chris Paul By The Numbers

PPG

All Star Selections

APG

All NBA Selections

Win Shares

All Defense Selections

Player Efficiency Rating

Salary (In Millions)

2. The Rockets are Far From Done

 

2 weeks ago, Daryl Morey said he had something up his sleeve. Today he pulled off a massive trade for a multiple time all star and that apparently is only the first domino:

Whether it’s Wade, Anthony, Paul George or whichever player, the Rockets are targeting, one has to assume that either Ryan Anderson or Eric Gordon will have to be traded to accommodate a third-star player.  This is also where the importance of trading for Paul comes into play because in doing so, the Rockets free up 11 million dollars in cap space by having him opt-in to the final year of his existing deal. This functions to give the Rockets flexibility to make moves in the present and cut ties with Paul should he not work out next summer.

In order of preference (because as Kevin Garnett said: Anything is Possible), the best way to counter the Golden State mega machine would be:

  1. Paul George – highly unlikely given the lack of assets the Rockets possess to make a deal happen. George is also a flight risk after one year but Morey is one of those managers who would be willing to gamble in pursuit of a championship
  2. Dwyane Wade – Acquiring Wade means acquiring another banana boat member (see photo for reference). It also means that the Rockets acquire one more close personal friend of Lebron James. Like collecting pieces of Exodia, this would be the precursor to a move that could be the best possible way to beat Golden State #UniteTheBananaBoat

3. Carmelo Anthony

This might be the most cost effective move as Carmelo would come via buyout at presumably a lesser cap hit than his current max deal. Giving no assets here is really appealing as Carmelo, despite not being the superstar he once was is still a very talented player. Reuniting with D’Antoni again, this time he would theoretically embrace not being the alpha for the first time in his career. Like Dwight Howard before him, this move could prove disastrous if Carmelo allows his ego to dictate his play but Morey has always been a gambler and Carmelo would be a coup as a buy out signing.

4. LaMarcus Aldridge

The Rockets flip their overpaid big man for the Spurs overpaid big man. The Rockets hope that Aldridge can find his previous form while embracing a Chris Bosh type role on a Harden – Paul led team. In typically Spurs fashion, Pop turns Anderson into Dirk Nowitzki and both sides go home happy

3.  The Rockets Need Depth and Beverley My Old Friend

Assuming they clear up salary in pursuit of a third star or even if the team remains as is (unlikely), Houston needs more depth especially on the wing. Among the causalities of acquiring Paul via trade was the loss of Sam Dekker – a reliable 3 and D guy, Lou Williams – instant offense off the bench that was so-so in his brief tenure in Houston and most importantly Patrick Beverley.

Pat Beverley was the heart and soul of the Rockets as much as Harden was the engine that made it run. Beverley’s intensity and never let die attitude is infectious and made him a fan favorite. Losing him hurts not only the organization from a basketball standpoint but it sucks as a fan to see the guy go. Alas, that is the cost of acquiring a superstar and though I am tremendously intrigued by the prospect of this Chris Paul – James Harden led team, I have to give one final salute to Patrick Beverley who put it all on the court every game.

it’s going to be a pain in the ass rooting against him and I dread the day when he matches up against Harden and gives him that trademark bulldog pursuit.

For the Rockets though, any depth will be acquired through the minimal exceptions they have at their deposal to sign anyone and looking for project players and aging vets willing to sign for cheap (not unlike Golden State this past year with David West and Javale Mcgee). Obvious targets include Nene who will excellent last year, Emeka Okafor, Matt Barnes, Omri Casspi and Vince Carter.

4. Clint Capela is the Big Winner and Harden’s Defense

No one should be more excited about this trade than Clint Capela who should now be counting a number of lobs he’s going to catch next year (and subsequently the number of dollars he’s going to make as a restricted free agent next year) as a result of having not one but two world class passers that will find him for easy buckets. Having dunked it 163 times last season (good for 5th in the NBA) Capela will look to add to that in the vein of CP3’s former running mate Deandre Jordan who led the league with 253 dunks.

On the other end, Chris Paul’s ability to facilitate the offense for stretches should allow Harden to retain some stamina for the defensive side of the ball. The one aspect of his game he is chastised for, Harden was at bare minimum an average defender in his OKC days and his underlying defensive numbers suggest that even in Houston he has been a better defender than the eye test (or viral Youtube videos) would suggest. Hopefully, with some of the offensive burden lifted off his shoulders, Harden will be able to fully realize his potential on both ends of the court.

5. I’m So Excited…Yet So Scared

Like Jessie Spano on caffeine pills, I am so so excited to see what this Rockets team can do not just as a fan of the Rockets but as a fan of basketball. By that same token, I am also extremely afraid of this being a disaster in the making. But this is why the NBA is so incredible as a league. Moves of this magnitude almost never happen in the NFL or NHL, stars mostly stay where they are with minimal turnover but in the glorious NBA, upheaval and league balance is shifted annually.

Today the Rockets acquired a star, not just any star, but a top 10 point guard all time when he hangs them up. By doing so they are aiming to challenge for a championship and have constructed a team around 2 superstar guards (something that is unheard of in the history of this game). Meanwhile, the Clippers look to be in full rebuild mode as they move on from a disappointing era marred by perpetual playoff shortcomings. It’s a tale of two teams going in two completely different directions with the Clippers folding for a better spot down the line and Daryl Morey as he so often does pushing his chips all in

The kicker? The offseason is just getting started and this trade just happens to be the first domino.

About The Author

Nate Lam
Editor / Cyborg

Editor-in-chief of Before The Cyborgs. Part time filmmaker and occasional short story author. One day he hopes to be as cool as Bill Murray. Follow his latest work on Before The Cyborgs or follow him on twitter (@NateTheCyborg) to get the latest updates.

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