As I was taking my daily scan through the major internet sports news sites this morning, I stumbled across a conversation some analysts were having about this summer’s free agency.
They talked about where they thought three particular players, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Gordon Hayward, could land in the offseason. After listening for about 10 minutes to them talk about where these players could possibly go to have a chance to get past both Golden State and Cleveland, I thought about one scenario in particular that no one else, at least to my knowledge, has suggested.
There has been a lot of talk about Paul George going to L.A. to play for either the Lakers or the Clippers, and understandably so. It’s where he’s from, Kobe is his favorite player, and he wants to play in front of his home crowd.
After I thought about it some more, I realized that he probably wouldn’t end up with either team, because it just doesn’t make sense. The Clippers are about to sign Chris Paul to a max deal this summer, which will basically lock them into five more years of doing the same thing that hasn’t worked the last four years. They probably won’t resign J.J. Reddick, and Jamal Crawford, at almost 40 years of age, will be their ace off of the bench once again.
As for the Lakers, the roster they have in place won’t win any time soon. If they get Lonzo Ball and he’s great, they’re still a 30-35-win team at best, and all of their top players, except Jordan Clarkson, are on rookie contracts; so even if they try to trade for a major player, the numbers won’t work.
Then I thought about a team that would be a perfect fit for PG. One that already has a superstar, a deep bench, and was just a player away from being able to contest with the top teams in the league, the Houston Rockets.
It makes perfect sense.
The Rockets can package Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson with some picks in a deal and still have enough pieces and money left over to pick up a solid starter to replace Anderson if they do move him. They’ll also still have Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Sam Dekker, Clint Capella and Patrick Beverly to work with, along with Harden. PG would see his numbers go up across the board in D’antoni’s high-powered offensive system, and he and Harden would gain the offensive helping hand they have both desperately needed the past few seasons.
It’s clear that Paul George doesn’t want to return to Indiana, and Houston probably has the most to offer in return. It’s a fit that would allow PG to operate in a lot of open space and take a lot of shots, and they’ll be athletic enough to run against some of the top tier teams in the NBA.
And if you want to use home town comfort as a talking point, Harden is also from California. It helps a lot when the best player on the team is from where you’re from.