Unless I’m forgetting someone, there are three people in Daryl Morey’s professional life who have continually managed to evade him, any one of whom could serve as his ‘white whale’ when and if a biopic is ever released depicting the Rockets’ general manager.  Sergio Llull, who may not ever come over; Chris Bosh, who may not ever play again; and Carmelo Anthony, who might finally get caught.  Recall that Morey was willing to trade for Anthony back when the Knicks forward was a Denver Nugget, even without the guarantee of an extension and then, in one of the greatest indignities ever suffered, pursued him again a few summers ago by photoshopping Melo’s body onto Jeremy Lin’s jersey.  Anthony turned his nose up at the promise of a Harden and Howard super-team featuring himself, citing a trust in Phil Jackson’s leadership, and re-signed with the Knicks.  The rest is history, and now, so too is Phillip.

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Just a quick thought: one of you compared Houston’s pairing of Chris Paul with James Harden to the Rockets’ mid 90’s super-teams featuring Olajuwon, Barkley, and either one of Clyde Drexler or Scottie Pippen.  This is a pretty far-off comparison considering that while Olajuwon and Barkley were both still very good players (top-15?), Harden is top 5 and at his absolute peak, and Paul is still top 10 and possibly still in his physical prime albeit at the end of it.  Contrary to popular belief, Clyde, while still an All-Star, was pretty washed up comparatively (18 points per game on 44% shooting), and Scottie was a total disaster.  This current pairing joins forces at a far more favorable stage for our respective stars, and you can extend that to Carmelo Anthony, in the chance Houston is still able to swing a deal.  Anthony, today, is a better player than Clyde Drexler was in 1996.  (I mean, really, has anyone become more underrated in today’s NBA than Melo?)

Assuming the Rockets are able to come to terms with Paul again next summer, how long is his window?  As a small guard who suffered multiple knee injuries early in his career, Paul has not relied upon his athleticism for quite some time now.  I see him aging gracefully, utilizing his godly IQ and midrange shooting ability to stay elite for another two more years, and then still “very good” for yet another two.  Good comps in this regard would be John Stockton and Steve Nash.

in musings

  • I think the biggest shock in all of this isn’t that the Houston Rockets landed Chris Paul but more in the way that it happened, via a trade, in days prior to even the start of free agency, with the news announced before I had even finished my first cup of coffee.  Recall that the Dwight Howard news was announced while most everyone who cared was steadfastly checking Twitter for breaking news updates throughout the hours prior to the actual announcement.  This just happened out of nowhere, and I also think that for many of us, there still was not full trust that Paul’s interest in Houston was genuine and not anything more than a leverage ploy to extract the full max from Los Angeles.
  • Many of you vented your frustration over the team’s handling of star guard James Harden, particularly in management’s refusal to ever offer criticism over his failures.  This is why you coddle him and why you coddle stars in general.  Because they hold the greatest power in personnel maneuvers and in the organizational hierarchy.  For all of Daryl Morey’s brilliance in manipulating the salary cap, none of this would have been possible without the relationship James Harden forged with Chris Paul on Team USA.  Morey knows this, in memory of his many failed free agency pursuits from earlier in his career.  Harden’s Game 6 was one of the most baffling performances I can remember by a player of his stature on such a stage.  But what would rebuking him have accomplished?  Maybe Morey or D’Antoni would have been out or maybe Harden would have just soured over the situation himself.  Now Harden will have Paul in his ear for the full 82, possibly the most exciting development resulting from this move.  For all of Harden’s otherworldly talents, it can be agreed he isn’t the most intense individual around.  While Paul will certainly help him keep defenses honest, his greatest contribution may come by way of helping Harden conquer whatever causes him to shut down at certain times.  The Rockets already had probably the league’s most dynamic overall offensive talent.  Now they also have its best leader.  If it doesn’t work and the laboratory explodes, it was never going to work anyways.  I didn’t want Paul at first, weeks ago, but I came to realize, just in time, that this was a risk that simply had to be made in the reality’s of today’s NBA.

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