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The Unanswered Questions From the Chris Paul–to-Houston Trade

CP3 is a Rocket, and we have some questions

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The beeping won’t stop. Neither will the light, which first just peeked through the gap in the curtains, but now fills the room, a berating brightness that intensifies your headache, somehow throbbing in rhythm with the alarm — what happened? You scramble to remember the early NBA transactions of the day, shuddering from thoughts of Phil Jackson and James Dolan, only to remember that it was the other coast, the other conference: Chris Paul is a Rocket.

You’re still in the hangover stage of Paul getting dealt for a return of [takes long, exasperated sip of water] Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year, and cash considerations, and you still have questions — of course you do. We all have unanswered questions.

Here are the most pressing ones, as we continue to ignore the Knicks for their own good:

Is there a Ryan Anderson market now?

The Rockets need to clear enough space to also acquire Paul George or Carmelo Anthony, as they are reportedly interested in doing, and Anderson’s four-year, $80 million contract is the most obvious candidate. Next season will be only the second year of that deal. The 6-foot-10 stretch 4 has been good for Houston, and his seven deep attempts a game (on 40.3 percent shooting) gave the Rockets the space to operate their unique offense. But at $20 million this year, the next, and the year after, Anderson’s a hard sell.

Will Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan still do the State Farm commercials?

You crash the glass? You own the paint? You no longer have a lob facilitator after spending years making that the best part of your limited offensive game?

Does this change anything for Blake Griffin?

The Clippers are reportedly focused on keeping Griffin now, though it will likely take a five-year deal for him to stay. For the past few seasons, it’s been rumored that Griffin and Paul didn’t get along, which could explain why the former wanted to dip out of L.A. this free agency. Maybe they did get along, but the Clippers’ Big Three always had a weird way of expressing that. Or like DeAndre Jordan said, "We don’t not like each other."

So … should the Clippers offer Blake a five-year deal?

You decide. Griffin likely won’t start the season healthy, and here, thanks to the impossibly diligent Kevin O’Connor, is a complete list of his injury history:

  • Sprained left MCL, January 2008
  • Torn right knee cartilage, March 2008
  • Broken left kneecap, October 2009
  • Sprained left knee, May 2012
  • Torn left meniscus, July 2012
  • Strained left hamstring, February 2013
  • Sprained right high ankle, April 2013
  • Bruised left knee bone, October 2013
  • Stress fracture to the back, July 2014
  • Staph infection of the right elbow, February 2015
  • Partially torn left quadriceps, December 2015
  • Broken right hand, January 2016
  • Surgery on the right knee — "minor" to remove "loose bodies," December 2016
  • Bruised right big toe, April 2017

Did the Clippers just win this trade?

Jerry West didn’t want to run it back. It looks like Paul was going to leave anyway, and the Clippers did, at least, get a return by dealing him rather than letting him walk in free agency. Something is always better than nothing, especially when that something includes Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams.

What will Mike D’Antoni do with Paul’s midrange jumper?

CP3 alone made more midrange shots per game (2.7) than the Rockets did as a team (2.5). D’Antoni kept track of every midrange shot this season and brought each of them up after games in the locker room. But he might’ve softened his stance after the San Antonio series, when it often seemed like the Spurs would guard only the paint and the arc, knowing the Rockets would never pull up in the midrange. Plus, Paul was [whispers, so Adam Silver doesn’t hear] recruited — how often does a 32-year-old superstar agree to move just to change his game?

What will Boston do if Paul George goes to the Rockets?

The silver lining of getting just Gordon Hayward, as opposed to getting Hayward and George, is that you are still getting Gordon Hayward. We think.

What will the assist-to-flop ratio be in Houston?

Similar to the Rockets’ strategy last season of saturating the court with too many off-ball deep threats for most defenses to track, the James Harden–Chris Paul combination will require diligence from the refs. It already takes a review to determine whether Harden crossed his elbows or was really hit, and now Paul is in that mix. Can the refs watch both enough to determine fouls from flops? Did that 3 just go in, too? Ready yourself for a new four-point play record.

Will CP3’s reputation with referees carry over to the Rockets, or does it stay with the Clippers?

Some people are just too hard to forget.

Will Harden be good-teammate Harden or bad-teammate Harden?

There is really only proof of the latter in 2015–16, also known as the final season Dwight Howard was in Houston. Harden froze Howard out of the offense after the Beard’s frustration with losing hit a tipping point, though to be fair, that seems more of a recurring Dwight problem. Sixth-man Harden was an unselfish player when willingly playing off the ball in his Thunder days, though he wasn’t at his current level of superstardom then. Still, when D’Antoni put the ball in his hands more last season, Harden’s point average increased 0.1, while his assist average bumped from 7.5 to an incredible 11.2 per game.

Who will step up in CP3’s place to combat the referees with Doc Rivers?

Easy answer:

A guy named Tim Quarterman is in the NBA?

Quarterman was traded from Portland to the Rockets for cash considerations to save Portland $1.3 million (I’m sure that’ll really help with the near $140 million the Blazers have in active salaries), but also to let the world know that one Tim Quarterman is in the NBA, and will take Royal Ivey’s place in the all-time name rankings, effective immediately.