Posted on June 29, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the Houston Rockets lost Dwight Howard last off-season and hired Mike D’Antoni, few thought they would be competitive. But they ended up being much more than just competitive. They were one of the best teams in the NBA.
But no one aims to be ‘one of the best.’ That’s like saying they are okay with being the prettiest ugly girl. The Houston Rockets don’t want to be the prettiest ugly girl. They want to be that babe every guy in the room wants.
They want to be champions.
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On Wednesday, they took a big step in the right direction with the surprising trade for Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul.
Paul had already told the Clippers he was going to opt out of his contract and test free agency. So, the team knew they were going to lose him. But in a perfect world, he would do the team a favor and opt in. That way they could trade him and get something for him–and they did.
The rumor mill had Paul likely headed to the San Antonio Spurs. But over the weekend, stories began to emerge naming the Rockets as a serious contender for Paul’s services. However, if they were to acquire him, they would have to do a lot to create room for his contract.
That is exactly what they did. In exchange for Paul, they are sending the Clippers Sam Dekker, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, and a top-three protected 2018 first-round pick and $661,000.
So, basically, Houston gave up a couple of decent young talents, a few guys no one has ever heard of, a draft pick, and some cash.
Not bad, Houston.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Many thought Paul would stay because the Clippers could pay him–$205 million over five years. But apparently, he and Doc Rivers have butted heads ever since the Clippers acquired Austin Rivers (his son). It’s a contention Doc Rivers denies, of course. Rivers insists that Paul just wanted to play with Harden.
It’s more likely that Paul has soured on the Clippers chances of ever making it out of the Conference Semifinals. So, he decided it was time for a change of scenery.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thinks the Rockets have now become an enticing team for a star player looking to win a ring. Rumor has it the team is definitely looking to acquire another star. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have been mentioned as possibilities.
Many are already concerned that Paul and James Harden may not mix. They both are accustomed to having the ball in their hands and being in charge on the court. Someone is going to have to give up control. Harden was supposedly pushing for the trade to happen so maybe it will be easier than people think.
Vegas seems to think the trade will work out for the Rockets. Their odds of winning the Final next season have changed. They’ve gone from 30 to 1 odds to 15 to 1. The Clippers odds have fallen from 40 to 1 down to 100 to 1.
To put Houston’s odds into perspective, the Golden State Warriors are clear favorites to win (2/3 or -150).