Almost two full seasons later, it's fair to say both teams involved in the blockbuster trade that sent Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets ended up winning it. As he and teammate Montrezl Harrell fight for Sixth Man of the Year, though, Lou Williams seems to believe the Clippers got the better end of the deal.
“The Rockets,” he told ESPN.com's Zach Lowe, “paid a healthy price for Chris Paul.”
True. Three of the players Houston sent to Los Angeles, Williams, Harrell, and starting point guard Patrick Beverley, have emerged as cogs for the league's toughest team. The first-round pick the Clippers acquired from the Rockets was used in a trade that netted them Danilo Gallinari, playing the best basketball of his perpetually underrated career, less than a week after Paul was dealt.
Los Angeles, it bears stressing, has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise in all of basketball this season. Even the few who saw playoff potential in Doc Rivers' team before 2018-19 wrote the Clippers off after they traded Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers in a move that prioritized cap space and long-term flexibility. Instead, aided by the additions of rookie Landry Shamet, acquired in the Harris trade, and former Los Angeles Lakers center Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles has already clinched a playoff berth and is fighting for the five seed in the Western Conference.
Obviously, the Clippers couldn't have done it without Williams, Harrell, Beverly, and Gallinari – the players that moving Paul ultimately got them. But to suggest the Rockets overpaid or are regretting the move is also remiss. Houston, remember, was within a half of beating the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of last year's Western Conference Finals, and is rounding into form as the likeliest thorn in the two-time defending champions' side.