Clip­pers trade Paul to Rock­ets in eight-player block­buster

All-Star to pair with Har­den

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY KRISTIE RIEKEN

HOUS­TON | Chris Paul is head­ing to Hous­ton to join James Har­den, and the Rock­ets will soon have two All-Stars in the back­court to lead their chase for a cham­pi­onship.

In the NBA’s sec­ond block­buster trade in less than a week, the Rock­ets ac­quired Paul from the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers on Wed­nes­day in ex­change for Pa­trick Bev­er­ley, Lou Wil­liams, Sam Dekker, Mon­trezl Har­rell, Dar­run Hilliard, DeAn­dre Lig­gins, Kyle Wilt­jer, a pro­tected first-round pick next year and cash con­sid­er­a­tions. The Rock­ets ac­quired Hilliard from Detroit and Lig­gins from Dal­las for cash con­sid­er­a­tions be­fore adding them to the deal.

Both the Clip­pers and Hous­ton will look far dif­fer­ent next sea­son than they did in fall­ing short in the play­offs again just six weeks ago. The ros­ter over­hauls come five days af­ter Min­nesota sent three play­ers to Chicago for All-Star Jimmy But­ler to kick things off with NBA free agency open­ing on Satur­day.

The 32-year-old Paul will soon be play­ing for his third team af­ter opt­ing in for the last year of his con­tract so the Clip­pers could work on a deal.

The nine-time All-Star has av­er­aged 18.7 points, 9.9 as­sists, 4.4 re­bounds and 2.3 steals over his 12-year ca­reer, though he has been dogged with crit­i­cism in re­cent years for fail­ing to help the Clip­pers get out of the sec­ond round of the play­offs. Los An­ge­les reached the post­sea­son in each of Paul’s six

sea­sons with the team, but the Clip­pers were elim­i­nated in the first round three times and in the West­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals three other times.

Per­haps the most crush­ing play­off se­ries loss of his ten­ure with the Clip­pers came to the Rock­ets in 2015. Los An­ge­les had a 3-1 lead in the con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals be­fore Hous­ton won the last three games of the se­ries to send Paul and the Clip­pers home early yet again.

The Clip­pers were elim­i­nated in the first round the past two sea­sons and Paul isn’t the only star who may be leav­ing. Blake Grif­fin in­formed the team last week that he is opt­ing out of the last year of his con­tract to ex­plore free agency. J.J. Redick is also a free agent.

In Hous­ton, Paul joins a team that was elim­i­nated by the San An­to­nio Spurs in the con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals last sea­son. With Har­den’s move to point guard last sea­son, Paul’s role will prob­a­bly be a bit dif­fer­ent than it has been in Los An­ge­les.

But he will add an­other scor­ing di­men­sion in re­plac­ing Bev­er­ley in the start­ing lineup. Bev­er­ley re­ceived NBA de­fen­sive first team hon­ors last week, but av­er­aged just 9.3 points in his five sea­sons with the Rock­ets. He’s the only Hous­ton starter in­volved in the deal, with Wil­liams and Dekker play­ing re­serve roles last sea­son.

Wil­liams, the 2014-15 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, was traded to the Rock­ets from the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers in Fe­bru­ary. He av­er­aged 14.9 points and three re­bounds in 23 games for Hous­ton af­ter the trade.

Dekker, the 18th pick in the 2015 draft, missed all but three games as a rookie be­cause of back surgery. The small for­ward was healthy this sea­son and ap­peared in 77 games and av­er­aged 6.3 points and 3.6 re­bounds. Har­rell, a sec­ond-round pick in 2015, av­er­aged 6.9 points and 2.9 re­bounds in two sea­sons in Hous­ton. Wilt­jer spent most of his rookie sea­son last year in the D-league af­ter go­ing un­drafted out of Gon­zaga.

Hous­ton also ac­quired Ryan Kelly from At­lanta and Tim Quar­ter­man from Port­land for cash con­sid­er­a­tions and Shawn Long from Philadel­phia for a fu­ture sec­ond-round pick and cash con­sid­er­a­tions.

Paul

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