The NBA season is barely over, and already there’s been a blockbuster trade. Last year’s off-season erupted after Kevin Durant came to terms with Golden State, creating what many current NBA stars are calling the best team ever. Fast forward a year and the buzz is just as animated.
Superstar Chris Paul was traded to Houston, joining James Harden in what is now expected to be one of the best backcourts in the league. And that was the second “blockbuster” trade in a week. Chicago previously dealt its superstar, Jimmy Butler, to Minnesota, kicking off a sizzling NBA free agency term. That trade got fans talking, but it was the Paul trade that got Houston GM Daryl Morey speaking to the media and making predictions, telling the Associated Press:
“It’s a weapons race in the NBA, and you’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines… Now that we have James and Chris I think people are going to look in free agency and say: ’Hey I can make this money there but maybe for close to the money but not quite as much I’m going to come to Houston and try to win a ring… That’s a big difference walking in with that kind of a situation.”
Paul and Harden are both legitimate game changers and certified NBA superstars. And the pair share another, less positive, description. Both have been persistently criticized for a perceived inability to get their teams deep into the playoffs. Houston made a major run this year before Harden seemed to fold, his team being whipped by the aging Spurs, 4-2 in the series.
Likewise, Paul had trouble getting his former team, the LA Clippers out of the early rounds of the playoffs. Year after year, the Clippers fell to team after team, never quite breaking that second-round curse. Now, it seems, the Clippers that made all those short playoff runs will be no more. Paul is out. Blake Griffin is “exploring free agency,” and JJ Reddick is looking as well.
May The Best Win
However, based on what has happened in the conference and NBA finals in recent years, Paul may bring to Houston what it needs to match up better with top of the heap in the West. Harden often had to carry the team on his back, and that didn’t hold up well against the genius defense of the Spurs and couldn’t match the scoring proficiency of the Warriors. Even an incredible scoring machine like LeBron James has no hope against a team like Golden State, who can beat you with just about anyone on the floor.
However, with Paul coming to the lineup, Houston immediately gets an offensive upgrade. That is if Paul and Harden can work and play well together. It’s expected that Harden will stay at point guard, meaning Paul will get less ball time than he’s accustomed to. If these superstars can make that arrangement work, there’s a good chance Houston will be a threat to put up triple-digits in offense every night.