LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday in the first significant NBA talent move of the off-season with free agency looming Saturday.
The 32-year-old point guard, who helped the United States win Olympic gold in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, joins shooting guard James Harden in what might be the NBA’s most dynamic backcourt next season.
In exchange, the Rockets sent the Clippers seven players ” Sam Dekker, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Montrezl Harrell, and Kyle Wiltjer ” plus a 2018 first-round NBA Draft pick and $661,000.
Any day you can acquire a Hall of Fame-level player is a good day for the franchise, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said.
It’s a weapons race in the NBA and you’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines. We felt with Harden in his prime, Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there and puts us right there with them.
That’s a remark aimed at the Golden State Warriors, who added forward Kevin Durant to star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and won the NBA crown this year, downing a Cleveland team in the final led by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love.
While players and teams can begin free agency talks, no deals can be signed until 6 July.
The Rockets, who won NBA crowns in 1994 and 1995, have not suffered a losing season since 2005-06 but have reached the Western Conference final only once in 20 years, losing that to eventual champion Golden State in 2015.
Since winning back-to-back championships, the pursuit of a third title has remained the ultimate goal for our franchise,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said.
We feel that combining two of the league’s greatest players in James Harden and Chris Paul, operating in Coach (Mike) D’Antoni’s system, gives us a championship caliber team that will compete at the highest level for years to come.