The Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul on Wednesday, giving a 55-win team two of the best guards in basketball. And, based on the comments of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets will try to add another star or two this offseason.
“This is the bright side of Golden State’s domination,” NBA champion and analyst Antonio Daniels said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It makes the offseason that much more intriguing because now you have 29 teams that are trying to catch the Golden State Warriors. This is the intriguing part of the NBA. Daryl Morey said it’s an arms race, and either you’re in the race or you’re out of the race – and I love a GM that is active and not sitting on his hands.”
Then again, Morey doesn’t have much of a choice. Neither does the rest of the league.
“You can’t sit there and wait out Golden State,” Daniels said. “You’re talking about four guys in Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant that are all in the prime in their career. So if you’re talking about waiting them about, you’re talking about waiting for another five, six, or seven years. So you have to try. You have to try and put yourself in a position to compete with them. I don’t think the Houston Rockets are done. It’ll be interesting to watch and see what other teams are going to do to try to put themselves in that arms race as well.”
Harden averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, while Paul averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. This gives Houston, at worst, the second-best backcourt in basketball.
Now the dynamic duo just needs to share the basketball.
“I have a difficult time thinking that the Houston Rockets would acquire Chris Paul without James Harden’s blessing,” Daniels said. “When you look at James Harden and the season that he had last year, (it was) the best year statistically speaking throughout his career. But if you look at the end of the year and how he ran out of gas, I don’t know if he wanted someone else. The thing about certain players in this league is they love the responsibility, and when I think about the offensive responsibility that James Harden had this year, that takes a toll on you from that point-guard position because it’s not just about you anymore. The stats were there, but there was a lot of responsibility that came along with running that point-guard position.
“So now if you have an opportunity to upgrade the point-guard position – meaning bring (Paul) in as opposed to Patrick Beverley – where so much responsibility is not on your shoulders so now if you want to rest here and there or you want to play off the ball here and there, now you have that luxury because you have one of the best leaders in the game in Chris Paul and one of the best point guards to ever play as well.”
Houston gave up a lot of assets for Paul – Sam Dekker, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, and a top-three protected 2018 first-round pick – but only Beverley and Williams saw meaningful action in the playoffs. Thus, the Rockets’ depth is still intact – and they could make another splash or two this offseason.
“I’m not saying it’s not going to work,” Daniels said. “When I saw the trade, I was surprised because I was wondering how these two ball-dominant guards can play together. But I think they know something that we don’t because they wanted to play together. This is something that they were trying to make happen for quite some time, and they got their wish. Now we’ll sit back and see if it works.”