Reports came down early Wednesday morning that Paul moving to the Rockets was a serious possibility. ESPN's Marc Stein said at the time that James Harden was part of the recruiting team for Houston, urging Paul to join up with him to take on other Western Conference powers.
Paul and Harden were "determined to play together," so once it became clear that Paul was going to leave for Houston in free agency, he reportedly arranged for the Clippers to send him in a trade instead in order to leave Los Angeles with something in return. The Clippers will receive Rockets players Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, and a 2018 first-round pick from Houston.
Things aren't so great on LA's end of things, but this is as good of a return as you could hope for when a star player has informed you he could leave you with nothing. There are other dominoes to fall for the Clippers—Blake Griffin's free agency just got a whole lot more interesting—but they'll come out of a no-win situation with something, at least. In a post on his Twitter, Paul expressed his admiration for the Los Angeles community and thanked the fans for all their support during his time there.
Unbelievable amount of emotions right now.. pic.twitter.com/1FB7ade7uC— Chris Paul (@CP3) June 28, 2017
Of course, the focus will be on Houston's end, and NBA Twitter was sent into hysterics with a single tweet, hardly knowing how to process Paul leaving L.A. to join up with Harden. Though some expressed concern about each player's preference to work with the ball in their hands, the general reaction was one of excitement about the possibilities.
Regardless of what happens, this is important: We get at least one year of Chris Paul in a Mike D’Antoni offense. This is AMAZING.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) June 28, 2017
"Why would Chris Paul go to Houston."— Josh Eberley 🇨🇦 (@JoshEberley) June 28, 2017
"Harden and Paul don't make sense."
"CP3 isn't leaving that money on the table."
Daryl Morey: pic.twitter.com/4c1G08ISpI
Chris Paul and James Harden placing blame after the Rockets 2nd round loss pic.twitter.com/nJSFaxHOxQ— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) June 28, 2017
Chris Paul is gonna be droppin dimes in Houston like I drop Whataburger— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) June 28, 2017
James Harden currently celebrating after Houston lands Chris Paul. https://t.co/RLeIx5YPgz— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) June 28, 2017
We are going to get peak Chris Paul. He just changed NBA rules to make more money and then eschewed his immediate chance to cash in.— The Dream Shake (@DreamShakeSBN) June 28, 2017
The Chris Paul and James Harden fit is so weird but I realize they're both basketball geniuses and should at least sort of figure it out.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) June 28, 2017
JR to his caddie..."Chris Paul just got traded to the Rockets...man, this league is crazy." pic.twitter.com/ga77Xrckxb— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) June 28, 2017
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Paul's offseason, the Rockets never seemed like a real threat to obtain his services. Early buzz revolved around Paul going to San Antonio, where he would have been the clear alpha dog in the Spurs' back court from day one. Now, he'll have to share that space with last year's MVP runner-up, who had transitioned to playing the de facto point guard role under Mike D'Antoni. There's also the question of whether Paul will buy into D'Antoni's offense, as his teams have traditionally played at a slower, more methodical pace at Paul's behest, while D'Antoni is all about running and gunning.
But if the Rockets can get it to work, they might be one of the most exciting offensive teams to watch in the history of the league. Harden and Paul are ruthlessly efficient offensive players and more than capable as shooting threats off-the-ball, and if they come to an understanding about sharing the workload, there's no telling what their offensive ceiling is.
For those of you wondering how Kevin Durant joining the Warriors might shift power around the league, you're looking at a direct product. Faced with an unstoppable juggernaut, players and teams are going to move heaven and earth just to give themselves a chance against Golden State.