Houston Rockets: Chris Paul trade the beginning of super team creation

Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) in action against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) in action against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Rockets stunned the basketball world by stepping in front of the rival San Antonio Spurs and stealing Chris Paul away from them in a sign-and-trade. The Spurs were favorites to land Chris Paul in free agency up until the last few days when chatter started about him going to the Rockets.

The Houston Rockets are not done wheeling and dealing. Not by a long shot. And the addition of Chris Paul is certainly a curious one considering how successful the transition to point guard was for James Harden. Harden will most likely move back to the shooting guard slot with Paul bringing the ball up the court.

The move could be seen as a preventative measure. Not only do the Rockets get Chris Paul, but the San Antonio Spurs do not, leaving them in the lurch without a point guard as Tony Parker‘s health and Patty Mills free agency could put the Rockets ahead of the Spurs heading into the 2017-2018 season.

The Rockets lost some solid contributors to last year’s team as a result of the move though. Patrick Beverley continued to improve his outside shooting and the energy, hustle and defense he provided can’t be measured with analytics.

Lou Williams as a scoring threat coming off the bench will be missed, but the bench was already productive before his addition so we should be able to survive his loss, though he certainly made our second unit more formidable.

Sam Dekker is a promising swing man who was entering his third year. He was pretty underutilized despite his versatility of bringing size while being able to hit the outside shot. I think he has a real future as being a solid starter and reminded me of a stronger version of Chandler Parsons in Parsons’ hey day.  Time will tell on this part of the trade.

That said, Daryl Morey must feel this depletion of the bench is worth the high risk-high reward proposition of adding Chris Paul at point guard. Chris Paul is an upgrade over Beverley as he provides comparable defense and substantially better offense.

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But is this trade less about Chris Paul and more about who will come here as a result of the addition of Chris Paul? One interesting thought is with Blake Griffin‘s free agency and his familiarity with Chris Paul, could Paul have been part of a scheme to tempt Griffin? The Rockets right now don’t have the contract flexibility to get Griffin. But whether it’s Griffin or Paul Millsap or the Rockets trading for Paul George, the signing of Chris Paul is a signal that the Rockets are not waiting to try and catch up to the Warriors.  They’re moving now.

The team is still a big move away from being in the conversation, but Chris Paul will certainly make a difference giving the Rockets starting lineup another play maker.

Most likely the team will have to trade away Ryan Anderson‘s big contract to open up space for another addition as Anderson is owed $20 million a year over the next three years.  Should the Rockets find a suitor for Anderson, they suddenly are now out on the hunt in the free agent market.

There’s talk of a trade for Paul George, but what the team needs most is to improve at the power forward position defensively without losing offense. Anderson is a somewhat one dimensional player as his shooting ability is phenomenal but doesn’t provide much in the way of rebounding and defense.

Should the Rockets be able to get either Blake Griffin or Paul Millsap, it would only be a matter of chemistry at that point, as the team would certainly have the talent to compete with the Warriors.

That’s an interesting question mark that will surround the team going into the off-season, even if Chris Paul is the only addition made. Will these superstars be able to co-exist? It’s the question that follows every super team, but it’s just about the best question a team could face going into any season.

Next: Chris Paul to Rockets in sign-and-trade

Regardless the Rockets are clearly on the move and know full well that as constructed, they can’t beat the Warriors. The current climate in the NBA demands a super team. You can’t win with one super star anymore and the Rockets are trying to stay ahead of the rest of the league by making the first move. Chris Paul is just the beginning. The only question is who’s next?