The Houston Rockets were having an uncharacteristically quiet offseason until late last week, when they swung a blockbuster trade that sent Chris Paul and draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook.
It was an odd trade, to say the least, but you just knew the Rockets couldn’t detached from the offseason festivities.
Otherwise, Houston made some small moves, like re-signing Austin Rivers and Danuel House and bringing in veteran big man Tyson Chandler, who will serve as Clint Capela’s backup.
Whether or not the Rockets have actually gotten better is anyone’s guess (I say no), but at least they are remaining interesting.
So, here are the three biggest takeaways from Houston’s offseason:
3. The Chris Paul-James Harden Beef May Have Been Real After All
Before free agency even began, we heard rumors of an irreparable beef between Paul and James Harden, with Paul growing tired of Harden’s ball-dominant ways on offense.
Paul quickly came out and said that it wasn’t true, as did general manager Daryl Morey, but based on how swiftly the Rockets acted in jettisoning Paul out of town, you have to think there was at least some truth to the chatter.
Maybe Paul and Harden didn’t actually hate each other as reports indicated, but there had to be some type of friction there, because the Paul-for-Westbrook trade was really not a Morey-eqsue move at all (more on that later).
To be fair to Harden, Paul has never been the easiest teammate to get along with, so who knows who was really at fault here.
2. Daryl Morey isn’t Being Daryl Morey
Morey’s whole philosophy is building teams that rely on good three-point shooters, guys who are either going to take a three or get to the basket for a layup and/or draw a foul.
As a result, over the years, he has surrounded Harden with guys like Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, etc.
You know, guys who can actually hit the three-ball at a solid rate.
So why is he trading for Westbrook again? Westbrook literally goes against everything Morey stands for in terms of what he wants out of his offense, as Westbrook is one of the most inefficient scorers this game has ever seen.
He certainly takes a lot of triples, but he doesn’t make a lot of them, which is going to drive Morey nuts.
It seems like Morey simply got desperate here and went after the only shiny object he could have gotten his hands on, as he struck out in his attempt to acquire Butler and simply didn’t have the cap room to sign any free agents outright.
1. The Rockets May Have Gotten Worse
Does swapping Paul, a ball-dominant guard, for Westbrook, an even more ball-dominant guard, actually make this team any better?
What will the dynamic between Harden and Westbrook be like? Who is going to be the primary ball-handler? Is Harden going to have to play almost exclusively off the ball when he and Westbrook are on the court together?
It’s obvious that Harden is relatively clueless what to do on offense when the ball isn’t in his hands, because he has never had to play in that role before in his life, and as for Westbrook? He is one of the worst guys you can put off the ball, because he is anything but a spot-up shooter, and his entire offensive repertoire is predicated on beating his man off the dribble and getting to the basket.
This was just a weird move for Houston, and I actually think it might end up making this team even worse.