SB Nation

FORT WORTH, TX - NBA free agency begins on July 1 at 12:01 a.m., but the Houston Rockets couldn’t wait to send rumblings throughout the sports world.

Less than two days before becoming an eligible free agent, Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets, immediately sparking conversation on the NBA’s hierarchy. This trade pairs two superstars- James Harden and Chris Paul- adding an elite point guard to a 55-win team, undoubtedly creating the most talented backcourt in the NBA and launching the Rockets into title contention.

After last season’s inevitable champion, this trade is exactly what the NBA needed. Both Golden State and Cleveland were projected to have easy paths to the Finals, and the two teams met for a third-straight Finals matchup. In the short run, this tandem creates another super team in the NBA to challenge both the Warriors and the Cavaliers. Team’s aren’t willing to allow the Warriors run away with the Western Conference this season, which is great for competition next season.

 Stephen A. Smith reports a potential transaction, which would send Carmelo Anthony to The Rockets

Hours after the trade was announced,

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that Carmelo Anthony is very interested in the Houston Rockets

if he were to receive a buyout from the New York Knicks. Additionally, the Rockets are also targeting Indiana Pacers’ Paul George. A super team is in the making in Houston. This acquisition is the first of many by teams focused on topping the Warriors. The Boston Celtics - the former No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference led by star point guard Isaiah Thomas - are very interested in adding Gordon Hayward and Paul George. The Cavaliers have expressed interest in adding Paul George, as well, and the Spurs are always major players in free agency.

The NBA relies on competition. With Kawhi injured, there was no competition last year, but it won’t be so easy for Golden State next season. It will be interesting to see if the trade works out in Houston’s favor. Pairing two ball-dominant guards may lead to some chemistry problems. In the first year of Mike D’Antoni’s coaching tenure in Houston, Harden was moved to the point guard where he facilitated the offense. In that one season, Harden averaged 29.1 points per game, 11.2 assist and 8.1 rebounds. Harden also finished second in MVP voting. Harden posted on of the best statistical seasons the league has ever seen, he thrived in Houston’s perfectly designed system for him.

Tim Cato from SB Nation reported that “the alchemy between Harden, D’Antoni, and Houston’s army of spot-up shooters allowed the Rockets to overachieve and brought Harden’s game to new heights.” Now Harden will be moved off the ball, only to be replaced by one of the best point guards of all time. Not a bad deal. Chris Paul remains one of the best players in the NBA at 32 years of age. Last season, he posted one of the best player efficiency ratings at 26.25 and finished second in plus-minus, only behind the best player in the game, LeBron James. One downside about this trade is the fact that Houston had to include their best defensive guard, Patrick Beverly, in the trade. Beverly’s ability to impact the game on the defensive side of the ball will not be matched by Paul, but Paul’s offensive skills will make-up for that loss. At 27, James Harden is performing at his highest capability.

Adding a player like Paul to this team could get the Rockets over the hump and into the NBA Finals. Paul’s elite defense, shooting, and facilitating means the Houston offense will only improve, but, as usual, only time will tell.


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