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REARMED: Rockets add Paul to help challenge Warriors’ dominance in NBA

Houston-Rockets-Chris-Paul

For all intents and purposes, Houston are going all-in in their aim to bring down the budding dynasty in Golden State.

The Rockets have traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul to pair him with their All-Star and MVP-runner up point guard James Harden, making Houston’s backcourt one of the most talented tandems in the league.

“Any day you can acquire a Hall of Fame-level player is a good day for the franchise,” said Houston’s general manager Daryl Morey.

“It’s a weapons race in the NBA, and you’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines,” added Morey. “We felt that with Harden in his prime, Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there and puts us right there with them.”

For years, Houston have been praised for building competitive teams without going for big name players. But superteams, clubs with more than two All-Stars, have won four of the last seven titles. Miami’s Big 3 and the Heatles won in 2012 and 2013, Cleveland’s Big 3 and the Cavs won in 2016, and the Death Star of the Warriors won in 2017.

Morey, whose teams have won at least 50 games each in three of the last four seasons but failed to even reach the NBA Finals in any of those years, had no choice but to follow suit and pair his All-Star with another All-Star.

And rumour has it, he is not yet done building this team. He is reportedly working to acquire in-prime All-Star forward Paul George from Indiana and wantaway disgruntled veteran Carmelo Anthony from New York.

HOW

Getting Paul was a two-man job for the Rockets, since Harden first sold to Paul the idea that with the two of them, they can go and challenge the Warriors. Paul, whose relationship with the Clippers was rumored to have deteriorated last year, bought the idea and agreed to opt-in to the last year of his contract with LA so he can be traded.

But to match Paul’s $24million salary without giving up their talented role players, Morey dealt for Darrun Hilliard from Detroit, DeAndre Liggins from Dallas, Ryan Kelly from Atlanta, Shawn Long from Philadelphia and Tim Quarterman from Portland using cash.

Morey then pulled the trigger to land Paul, and sent to the Clippers a treasure chest of maneuverable assets and some tried and tested players. LA’s acquisitions were Hilliard, Liggins, starting point guard Patrick Beverley, seventh man Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrel, Kyle Wiltjer, a top-three protected 2018 first round pick and $661,000 in cash considerations.

To get both, yes, both, George and Melo, the Rockets may need to part ways with future first round picks, and some of the small-deal players they acquired, but Morey holds all the aces if this was a poker game.

George’s desire to leave Indiana has been confirmed by both the player’s agent and the Pacers’ own officials.

If Indiana want to get something from a George trade rather than lose him for nothing in the 2018 free agency, they will bite whatever the Rockets, or any team for that matter, will offer. And because George only has one more year in his current contract, he is not guaranteed to stay with the team that will trade for him, meaning he is a one-year rental and no team will break the bank for his services, no matter how good they are.

Of all the teams that have reasons to go for George, it might be the Rockets who can convince George to stay because they will have at least three All-Stars in the group in Harden, Paul and George. That might be adequate talent to at least challenge the Warriors.

In the case of Melo and the Knicks, the star player wants to be bought out of his gargantuan contract, while the club wants to trade him for pieces. But like with the case of George and the Pacers, Melo has the leverage because of the no-trade clause on his contract. Even if a team offers the world for the 10-time All-Star, he can veto the deal and be a problem to the Knicks.

Houston might not be as glamourous as New York or Los Angeles, but the chance to play with Paul, who is one of Anthony’s best friends, might entice Melo to waive his no-trade clause and agree to get dealt to Houston, where they can simultaneously go for an NBA championship with one of his best friends.

Who knows? Maybe in a year, when Anthony and Paul’s two other best friends in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade become free agents, they might decide that it is time to play in one team. LBJ, Wade, George, Paul and Harden. Call that old, desperate or whatever. That’s a winning lineup.