In return for Chris Paul, the LA Clippers managed to acquire seven players and a first-round pick from the Rockets instead of letting Paul walk for nothing in free agency.
Losing Chris Paul sucks, period. But Jerry West and the LA Clippers did an impressive job of garnering a substantial return for Paul instead of watching him walk away in free agency with no return. It helps that Paul let the team know he was planning to leave and opted into his contract so that the team could generate some sort of return for him. The eight players (including the draft pick as a player) that Houston is sending to LA for Paul is the most in NBA history for a single player, passing the KG trade from 2007. Here’s a breakdown of each player/asset that the Clipper received in the Chris Paul trade and what the team will likely do with them.
2018 First Round Draft Pick (Top 3 Protected):
After not having a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Clippers now have two first-rounders in next year’s draft. It’s too early to predict the strength of next year’s draft and almost impossible to predict where the two picks (LA’s and Houston’s) will land. Unless the Paul and Harden Rockets are a total disaster, it would be safe to assume that LA will receive the Houston pick since it’s only top three protected. As of right now, having two first round picks next year is a big win for the Clippers, who will have Jerry West, the architect of the Warriors super team, providing input on who they should target and ultimately draft.
Power forward/Small forward Sam Dekker:
Dekker was the 18th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft but missed the majority of his rookie season with a back injury that required surgery. Last season the former Wisconsin Badger appeared in 77 games for the Rockets, averaging 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 32.1 percent from three. Dekker is still a young player at 23-years-old and showed plenty of potential and upside before suffering a broken hand prior to the playoffs. In his first career start against the Memphis Grizzlies, Dekker put up 30 points in an impressive 12-19 shooting performance that included the forward going 6-11 from deep. Dekker will probably play some minutes with the Clipper’s Las Vegas Summer League team and should be a lock to make the regular season roster. If LA fails to sign a free agent wing during this offseason, Dekker could find himself thrust into the starting lineup on his new team. I’ve been high on Dekker since his Wisconsin days and the young forward could be in the perfect position to shine in LA.
Point guard Patrick Beverley:
Beverley is one of the players in the league that you love if he’s on your team, but absolutely despise if he’s going again you. The scrappy point guard is regarded as one of the best defenders at the position and recently made the 2017 NBA All-Defensive First team alongside Chris Paul. The five-year veteran also recently won the NBA’s Inaugural Hustle Award which is calculated by totaling up loose balls recovered (1st among guards), charges drawn (2nd among guards), deflections (9th among guards), screen assists (7th among guards), and contested shots (19th among guards). Beverley provides the Clippers with a very capable three-point shooter having shot 38.2 percent from beyond the arc last year in Houston and is also an average passer dishing out 4.2 assists per game last season. In addition to his shooting, passing, and defense Beverley was 5th in the league among guards in rebounding, pulling down 5.9 boards per game. Combine this with the fact that the point guard is on a bargain deal with the Clippers only owing him a little over $10 million for the next two seasons and Beverley becomes an even more appealing asset in the return for Paul. Beverley will most likely be the Clipper’s starting point guard paired with Austin Rivers in the LA backcourt when next season rolls around. Clippers fans will quickly fall in love with the fiery point guard and I can’t wait to see what a Beverley-Rivers backcourt can do on defense.
Point guard Lou Williams:
Lou-Will is pretty much Jamal Crawford in point guard form if you subtract J-Crossover’s handles. The perennial NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award contender is entering his 13th NBA season and is on a much friendlier contract than Crawford. Williams has one year left on his three-year, $27 million deal which means the Clippers will only owe him $7 million this year if they decide to keep him. Williams spent the majority of last season across the hall with the Lakers but was acquired by the Rockets near the end of the season in an attempt to bolster their bench scoring. With the Lakers and Rockets, Lou-Will averaged 17.5 points and 2.9 assists while shooting 42.9 percent from the floor and 36.5 percent from deep. William’s game is fairly one dimension with scoring being his only significant contribution to the team. With Crawford and Williams both sharing the same style of play and both being ball dominant back up guards, I feel like the Clippers will probably look to move one of the two. While moving Crawford’s hefty contract would be a huge win for LA, moving William’s expiring contract would be much easier and more likely to happen.
Power Forward/center Montrezl Harrell:
I’ve been a fan of Harrell ever since he threw down this alley-oop for Louisville against Brice Johnson’s UNC Tarheels in 2015. The forward was drafted by the Rockets with the 32nd pick but only saw the floor in 39 games his rookie season. Last season, Harrell took a significant step forward and appeared in 58 games for Houston, starting 14 of them. The athletic forward was turned into the Rocket’s backup center and held his own despite being undersized for the center position. Harrell averaged 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting an impressive 65.2 percent from the floor. Clippers’ fans got a firsthand look at the athleticism and hustle that Harrell bring to the court when he exploded for 29 points against the Clippers last season, shooting 10-14 from the floor and 9-11 from the free throw line. He doesn’t range on his jump shot but the athleticism and the hustle that he’s going to provide for LA’s second unit will become valuable and appreciated by fans.