Daryl Morey didn’t want to wait. With Chris Paul days away from hitting free agency the Rockets general manager got proactive and after the future hall of famer agreed to opt in to the final year of his contract, Morey traded Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and a future first round pick for him, winning the offseason before it even started, in what could be the start of a massive roster overhaul after a 55-win season.
Soon after The Vertical reported the trade, ESPN reported Paul and James Harden are recruiting Pacers forward Paul George, who the Rockets tried to trade for prior to last week’s draft. ESPN also reported that if Carmelo Anthony is bought out by the Knicks, Houston could be his preferred destination. My head is spinning.
Less than a year ago, the Rockets couldn’t get a meeting with Kevin Durant or get Kent Bazemore and Al Horford to take their money, now they could on the verge of forming the NBA’s next super team.
The Paul trade comes with risk. He’s 32 years old, missing 21 games last season, and there’s no guarantee that he and Harden can co-exist on the same team, though it’s hard to think they won’t with one entering the back-end of his prime and the other looking to bounce back from an embarrassing finish to his season, but until we see the two of them on the floor together that remains a question mark.
Both players have the ball in their hands a lot, so they’ll keep each other fresh by sharing the ball handling duties, but to say they can’t play off it is a myth. Harden is devastating when he gets the ball moving towards the basket, and Paul is an elite shooter from almost everywhere on the floor.
That’s his shot chart from last season. Green is good. If you take things a step further, Paul shot 47 percent on catch and shoot shots, per NBA.com this past season, 50 percent from behind the 3-point line. He’ll be just fine with Harden creating shots for him. Harden shot close to 40 percent on catch and shoot 3s, though he didn’t take many. Expect that number to rise, but the fit and how it looks on the floor are secondary right now.
What matters today is that the Rockets are all-in. If this trade works out and the Rockets are able to add another marquee player next to Harden and Paul they could challenge Golden State in the West next year, if the 2018 season is a flop, the Rockets could be in trouble.
Paul will be a free agent next July as will Trevor Ariza. Clint Capela will be a restricted free agent, while Harden will have one year left on his contract. If this duo doesn’t work, you can bet that Paul will leave town and that would put Harden’s future in flux with the Lakers looming as a possible destination. If the Rockets trade for George, the sense of urgency next season goes up as does the pressure to succeed.
In this NBA you have to take a risk in order to compete with the Warriors and Cavs, who show no signs of slowing down. The day after losing to the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, Daryl Morey said his goal is as it’s always been: to win a championship. On Wednesday, he let his actions do the talking and pushed his chips to the middle of the table, in the start of what could be the most significant offseason not just in his tenure with the team, but in the team’s history.