The Houston Rockets Land Chris Paul With the Help of James Harden

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

James Harden must be one hell of a recruiter.

A day after it was reported that the Houston Rockets star was lobbying friend Chris Paul to leave the Los Angeles Clippers for Texas, it actually happened.

Paul had the option to enter free agency or play out one more year on his contract at just under $23 million. By informing the Clippers of his intention to sign with the Rockets, both he and his old team were able to benefit—Paul opted in to the final year and the Clippers traded him.

This way, Paul will still be eligible for a ridiculously large “super max” contract next offseason, which would not have been the case had he left LA via free agency this summer. Plus, the Clippers got something out of their star of six years: dogged defender Patrick Beverley, young athletic forward Sam Dekker, bench-scoring wizard Lou Williams, a 2018 first-round pick, and a whole bunch of salary flotsam.

The move makes for an intriguing new team out West in the Rockets, and an interesting summer for the Clippers, who will see Blake Griffin hit free agency and who have been shopping DeAndre Jordan.

We’ll see how Paul and Harden—two ball-dominant guards—mesh offensively, but they apparently don’t think it’ll be an issue. Harden reportedly pushed the front office to pursue Paul and spoke to the point guard personally.

And the Rockets might not be done—Houston will be pursuing Griffin and fellow power forward Paul Millsap in free agency, according to ESPN.