Oh praise the spine-tingling tunes of our Lorde, it has finally happened! The Los Angeles Clippers have been broken, Lob City has crumbled to the ground. This truly is a marvellous day for the NBA.
And it’s ended in an almost poetic manner too: full of circular irony and press-leaked bad blood. Chris Paul was set to be a free agent, at least it was all under his control, but instead of opting out of his deal he’s manufactured a much better circumstance for himself. Opt in to that final year of his contract on the proviso that the Clippers trade him – otherwise he’d be leaving for nothing – and that’s exactly how it’s happened. Don’t doubt Chris Paul’s genius, he’s the smartest point guard in the league and the head of the player’s union. The man is not to be messed with.
So Chris Paul heads to the Houston Rockets and in return for breaking up the core of their team the LA Clippers get a hefty haul of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, around U$661000 in cash and a top-three protected 2018 first round draft pick. The Rockets shan’t be finishing in the bottom three of the lottery next season so don’t worry about that.
Patrick Beverley was just named to the All-Defensive first team the other day (along with Chris Paul) so you know what he brings to the table. Lou Williams is a former Sixth-Man of the Year who can always hit some shots off the bench – funny story he started last season with the Lakers now he’s a Clipper via the Rockets. Sam Dekker was a dude who did some stuff off the bench occasionally too. At 22 years old there’s room for him to evolve into something decent and a first round pick is always handy. Montrezl Harrell’s a little less of a prospect but might fill a role or emerge into something greater in his new surroundings – players do that, you know. Meanwhile DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard and Kyle Wiltjer’s deals are all non-guaranteed so they might not stick around. Or maybe they will, who knows?
For the Clippers, it leaves them in a tricky position. Re-signing free agent forward Blake Griffin has to be the priority now but… why would Blake wanna stay in LAC after this? He was already pretty likely to wander off to new pastures. The Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics sound like much better options today and there’ll be other teams keen for meetings too. Then again, perhaps Blake wants to see what it’s like to run the offence on his own – he averaged 4.9 assists per game playing alongside Chris Paul last season so you know he’s got the vision.
By the way, J.J. Redick is leaving the Clippers in free agency. One less shooter (although Lou Williams helps that). Jordan Clarkson’s already had to delete a tweet inviting Redick to join the Lakers so yeah. Watch that space.
Remember that time, way back in the dark days of 2015… the Clippers were playing the Rockets in the playoffs. LAC led by 19 points at home in the second half of game six with a 3-2 lead in the series. And then chaos ensued. Despite the CP3/Blake/DAJ/Doc thing they never got closer to glory than that horrific collapse. Chris Paul has still never played in the Conference Finals, even.
And now, two years and change later, Chris Paul will join the Houston Rockets, the team responsible for probably the worst playoff experience of his career. The trade and the passage of time ensures that this isn’t quite a KD>GSW thing but it does have a certain poeticism to it, don’t you think?
Of course these are the Clippers so things don’t happen without some drama. Think back on the DeAndre Jordan Free Agency Kerfuffle. It’s time, now, for storytime with The Wildcard…
“Once upon a time there was a basketball player called CP3. He was one of the very best players in all the land but for whatever reason he’d never been able, in all his many quests, to win himself a championship. He had friends that he thought would assist him upon his way but every time some evil being blocked his path. One time it was a pack of Grizzly Bears that defeated him, another time the clap of Thunder. More recently he succumbed to Rockets that fire three pointers, progressives from Portland and then, just the other month, the rhythmically challenging tones of Jazz.
But by that time CP3 had already plotted his way clear of these so-called friends of his. He would opt into the last year of his contract and force a bartered exit. He hadn’t meant it to come to this but he now had no other choice. See, his ally J.J. was already leaving and his patron noblemen had no plans to adequately replace him. How could CP3 succeed without the sharp-shooting of J.J.? And what will happen if Big Blake should choose another path to walk? These doubts had become too much.
However the main reason he needed to leave was that he felt he could no longer follow the guidance of the great sage Doc. See, Doc had guided CP3 and his friends to much success but things weren’t exactly pleasant any longer. Doc has a son named Austin and Austin had been given a prominent role within their cohorts despite not being as talented as others. Yet being the son of the sage, Austin also felt more protected and entitled than everybody else. He wasn’t held as accountable as the rest of them and this upset many a player. The final straw came when a bartering was proposed between the Clippers of Los Angeles and the Knicks of New York. CP3’s friend Melo could join the Clipper cohorts while travelling the other way would include young Austin. The great sage Doc declined the offer and CP3 declared that Doc cared more about his progeny than about his team. Their relationship was well and truly broken.”
True story, mate. Carmelo Anthony and Sasha Vucevic were on the table for Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers but Doc Rivers said no.
Chris Paul is the winner in all of this, there’s no doubt about it. His combination with James Harden is going to be very interesting to see considering they’re both pretty much ball hogs but they’re keen to get slugging so they’ll probably figure something out. If they don’t? Well, Paul will be a free agent next season so it doesn’t matter. If he likes it then he re-signs on a big deal. If not he signs a slightly smaller deal elsewhere, no worries. In the meantime he doesn’t have to pay a damn cent of income tax for as long as he plays in Texas.
Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade will all be free agents in 2018.
You know what this all comes back to? The Golden State Warriors. Those buggers are so primed for championships that other teams are having to combine assets just to compete. The Timberwolves ruined the Bulls to get Jimmy Butler from them. The Rockets just ended the Clippers by trading for Chris Paul. The Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat in the East are all lining up to try rip one away from Utah or Indiana in the Gordon Hayward/Paul George stakes. Every team wants to do as well as it possibly can but when you’re dealing with an all-time collection of superstars like the Warriors have then there simply ain’t enough room for everyone. Some franchises, like the Clippers and Bulls, have gotta take one for the rest of the league here.
Consider there are, what… fifteen to twenty top tier players out there in their primes right now? That might be a generous figure but assume it’s true. There are thirty teams and the Warriors have three of those top 15-20 dudes. The rest of the NBA has to condense if anyone’s going to threaten the Dubs. It’s like one of those movies where two dead-set rivals realise they need to combine forces if they’re going to overcome the big baddie.
So bollocks to the Clippers, they were a waste of space anyway. And bollocks to the Rockets for being in the right place in the right time with the right assets to exploit that. But a cheeky shout out to the Golden State Warriors for sparking some absolute madness this offseason. We’re like a couple weeks removed from the end of the Finals and it’s been nothing but hype and hilarity so far, this is awesome… and will continue to be until the new season starts and we realise it was all for nothing because the Warriors are just gonna win it all over again.
Oh and Phil Jackson also got fired from the NY Knicks today.
Chris Paul is the king of assists, the Point God. Be like Chris Paul and give the Nichey Niche a slick assist by slapping one on an ad whenever you read something decent. Only takes a second to click and it won’t cost you a cent.