The dust is still settling from a monster trade that will send Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. Paul, who had an early termination option and could have chosen to become a free agent, instead chose to play out the last year of his contract, but on another team, when the Clippers expressed that they would not offer him the 5-year maximum salary. Instead, he will be eligible for that contract from the Houston Rockets next summer.
In return, the Clippers received a massive and mixed package, with some intriguing pieces and some not-so-intriguing pieces. All in all, the Clippers received 7 new players, Houston’s 2018 first round pick (likely to be in the 25-28 range considering the roster the Rockets are putting together), and $661,000 in cash. Here’s a look at the 7 guys:
- Patrick Beverley: I wish it was under better circumstances, but boy am I excited about this one. Beverley is a pesky defender (named to the NBA All-Defensive 1st Team) and energetic, athletic guard. He isn’t a pure point but I expect that Blake Griffin will see a lot more creative duties in the post-CP3 era. Beverley is a really solid starting point guard, and his contract is remarkably team friendly—just $5.5 million this season, with a non-guaranteed salary of $5 million for 2018-19. The Clippers get their new starting PG for less than what they’re paying Wesley Johnson.
- Lou Williams: Here’s a guy who won’t get cut, but probably won’t ever actually wear a Clippers jersey. He has a $7 million expiring contract and a reputation as a bench scorer, so the Clippers will be able to move him for at least a solid asset, perhaps a selection of future 2nd round picks from Philadelphia. He’s redundant with Jamal Crawford, but given their contract situations, I wouldn’t be shocked if both are moved.
- Sam Dekker: Now we get into the youth. Dekker is far from a star prospect but he was the 18th pick in 2015. The Clippers actually could have really used a 6’9” small forward in that draft, and now they got him a couple years late. He was solid, but not much more, as a backup in Houston last year, playing mostly power forward in their small-ball, up-tempo lineups. He shot just 32.1% from deep, which will need improvement if he’s going to carve out an NBA career. Dekker is owed $1.8M this year, and the Clippers have until October 31st to decide on a $2.8M team option for 2018-19.
- Montrezl Harrell: Harrell was a late throw-in as Houston scrambled to make salaries work, but he’s a valuable piece. Like Dekker, he’s only 23, and he was a solid rotation piece for the Rockets last season, averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes a game. The Clippers no longer have to scramble to find a washed-up backup big man like Roy Hibbert when they can turn to the younger Harrell to get a look at him. He’ll make $1.5M this season and be eligible for restricted free agency next summer
- Darrun Hilliard, Kyle Wiltjer, and DeAndre Liggins: These guys are only in the trade for salary-matching purposes. In order to make the deal work without giving the Clippers additional salary commitments, the Rockets shopped around the league for some non-guaranteed minimum-salary deals. Hilliard was a non-factor for two seasons in Detroit, Wiltjer was a benchwarmer for the Rockets last year, and Liggins has bounced around, most recently being bad for the Cavaliers last season when they had nobody on the bench. I doubt that any of them will be Clippers on July 1st.