Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets

June 28, 2017

The Los Angeles Clippers officially terminated their greatest era of franchise success, announcing that the team traded star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets in exchange for a collection of spare parts -- specifically, guard Patrick Beverley, forward Sam Dekker, center Montrez Harrell, guard Darrun Hilliard, guard DeAndre Liggins, guard Lou Williams, forward Kyle Wiltjer, and a 2018 First Round Pick.

Paul is an elite talent and a pure point guard who can score in multiple ways, dish the rock, and run an offense efficiently.  During his time with the Clippers, he elevated the play of his teammates, turning the offensively-limited DeAndre Jordan into a weapon in the pick-and-roll with his pinpoint lobs.

Paul also brought loads of leadership and intangibles to the squad, adding a toughness on defense -- who could forget him bodying up Kevin Durant in the playoffs a few seasons ago -- that rubbed off on at least some of his teammates.

Unfortunately, in a loaded Western Conference, the trio of CP3, Blake Griffin, and Jordan just could not get over the hump.  Too many seasons ended with Paul and Griffin missing playoff games due to injuries, and Paul, evidently feeling that the Clips' window of opportunity had closed, wanted a change of scenery.

The feeling also could have been mutual.  Had Paul signed a max deal with LA, he would have made more than $40 million in the final year of his contract when he would have been an ancient 38-years-old.  Even the Clippers wealthy ownership likely balked at paying such a sum for an older player.

In Houston, Paul will pair with star guard James Harden, who now presumably will go back to the 2 after successfully playing the point last year.  They arguably will form the best backcourt in the league, as Houston is going all-in trying to challenge the Golden State Warriors.

But make no mistake, absent some major free agent coup, the Clippers are once again essentially irrelevant.  Even with Paul, they were mere fringe contenders, now without him, making the playoffs becomes an iffy proposition.  Their priority must shift to Griffin, who is their only true star left, given that the defensively elite Jordan still cannot create his own shot or command a double team in the post.

At the very least, they did get something for CP3, albeit mainly role players, young prospects, and a likely late first rounder down the road.

Beverley, 28, is an intense defender who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2017, the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2014 and recently received the 2017 NBA Hustle Award.

Last season with Houston, Beverly averaged career-highs in rebounds (5.9), assists (4.2) and steals (1.48). Over five seasons with the Rockets, he appeared in 291 games, holding career averages of 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.26 steals in 28.5 minutes.

Dekker, 23, is an underrated athlete who could blossom if given a greater offensive role in LA.  Fortunately for Dekker, the Clippers have had a need for someone to play at the three, so he could be given that very opportunity.  He appeared in 80 games over his first two NBA seasons with the Rockets, averaging 6.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists, while shooting 47.3% from the field.

Harrell, 23, is an energetic 4 who will defend and crash the glass.  He holds career averages of 6.9 points and 2.9 rebounds, while shooting 65.1% from the field in 97 appearances over two seasons with the Rockets.

The 2015 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Williams, 30, averaged a career-high 17.5 points in only 24.6 minutes per game last season with Houston and Los Angeles.  In 12 NBA seasons with Philadelphia, Toronto, Los Angeles and Houston, he holds career averages of 12.8 points, 2.9 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 782 career games with 90 starts.

Williams provides the Clippers with another gunner off the bench, alongside Jamal Crawford.

Hilliard, 24, holds career averages of 3.6 points and 1.0 rebounds in 77 appearances over two seasons with the Detroit Pistons.

Liggins, 29, holds career averages of 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds in 119 appearances over four seasons with Orlando, Oklahoma City, Miami, Cleveland and Dallas.

Wiltjer, 24, is a stretch 4 who averaged 0.9 points and 0.7 rebounds in 14 games last season as a rookie in Houston.

By Staff of and news services

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