RIP Lob City.
On Wednesday, Point God Chris Paul informed the Clippers he would sign with the Houston Rockets in free agency, prompting Clippers brass to sign-and-trade the superstar for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, and a future first round pick.
It’s hard to blame Paul for moving on from the Clippers, a team with little cap room or options to improve a team that appeared to have reached its ceiling.
In 2011, Paul was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers, forming a dynamic trio with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Paul was able to drag the Clippers out of the doldrums of the Western Conference, consistently churning out 50-win seasons.
But Paul was never able to reach the Western Conference Finals, largely due to untimely injuries. As Paul moves onto a third team in his illustrious career, will he have the chance to compete for a title?
It may be difficult in Houston, due to the construction of the roster. Do-everything point guard James Harden will have to get used to playing without the ball at times.
Harden has played with other ball-dominant players before, like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. In 2016-2017, Harden controlled every aspect of the Rockets’ offense, amassing a 34.2 percent usage rate and leading the team to 55 wins.
Last season Harden possessed the ball for almost nine minutes per game, which led the NBA. Paul possessed the ball for roughly 7 minutes per game, which ranked seventh.
Both Harden and Paul love to run pick-and-roll with a big man while the court is spaced with shooters. While one of them is directing the offense, another will have to stand and watch or learn to cut and come off screens.
Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni will have to develop some action to run on one side of the floor while Paul or Harden is running pick-and-roll on the other.
Though there will definitely be a learning curve before the offense operates at peak efficiency, CP3 will provide some valuable midrange shooting to a team that relies heavily on free throws, three-pointers, and layups.
During their second-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich developed a defense to run the Rockets off the three-point line and keep them out of the paint. The Rockets were reluctant to take open midrange shots and it probably cost them the series.
Reports surfaced Tuesday that Harden was pushing for the Rockets to sign Paul, a positive sign for the team that he is willing to sacrifice to make it work.
If Paul and Harden can learn to operate on the floor together, they could form a lethal combination in the backcourt. In addition, D’Antoni will be able to stagger their minutes so that one of the two players is always on the court.
Chris Paul was the first ball to drop in free agency and there are many more to come. I already told you to get your Twitter fingers ready.