Chris Paul to the Celtics?

The Houston Rockets are in the beginning phases of a free fall. Their new, cheap owner abruptly ended negotiations with head coach Mike D’Antoni effectively making the 2019-20 season the final he’ll serve with the team. Also, it not so inadvertently it sets the Rockets up for colossal failure sowing instability behind the scenes. With over $387 million tied up in James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela and P.J Tucker. Daryl Morey deserves credit for filling in the holes penny pinching, finding Iman Shumpert and Austin Rivers in the bargain bin.

The title window for the Rockets is officially closed. Of course, it didn’t have to be. But that’s what happens when your owner is rich enough to buy a professional basketball, but not doesn’t have enough leftover to actually pay for the team itself.

Initial reports say Morey is shopping literally everyone. Including Harden. Likely, this is bait to lure teams into talks that eventually revolve into sending a package for Tucker or Capela. The Rockets likely chasing any form of cap relief and to replenish their draft coffers.

Capela and Tucker shouldn’t be difficult to move. Their contracts are decent and the years aren’t intimidating to me. The worst contract on the books is Chris Paul and he might have one or two years of productivity left before his career comes to a screeching, horrific halt. With $124,076,442 owed to Paul for his age 34-35-36 seasons the Rockets have been extra cautious with the “Point-God” these last two years allowing him to miss 48 games and couldn’t have asked for better results, if we’re being honest.

His hamstrings are prone to splitting like guitar strings. Any team that trades for Paul is effectively eating junk food in hopes they can squeeze a title run before he becomes the biggest multi-year albatross in the entire league.

Would Danny Ainge consider going all-in on Chris Paul if Kyrie Irving leaves? I’d imagine he’d consider it even if the dollar figures are more than daunting. While I wouldn’t recommend the Celtics do this, the argument for why they would is all there. An underlying subplot of this off-season is whether Al Horford will opt-in to his $30.1 million player-option. Horford has been open about wanting to compete for a title and if Irving leaves we can see him become a David West-like figure in the NBA hopping from title contender to title contender in pursuit of the precious. The small bright side to two of their best players leaving is the opening of $26 million in space for the Celtics. Enough for free agents like Bojan Bogdanovich and Patrick Beverly.

Of course this all goes up in smoke if Chris Paul is traded to Boston. The price tag isn’t the only thing that scares fans away from acquiring number 3. But who’ll be in the trade coming to Houston. While I expect a huge bounce back year for him, nobody in Boston would shed a tear for Gordon Hayward being the one moved. Of course, Morey will want more than a forward coming off a devastating injury and a lackluster return season. He’ll want Marcus Smart. First Team All-Defense Marcus Smart.

A Rockets starting lineup of James Harden, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward, P.J Tucker and Clint Capela potentially is better than what they’ve had before. Morey’s teams have always been super weak on the wings. Trevor Ariza is great, but he’s never known for his scoring prowess. Morey also would have four of the best defenders the league has to offer, if Hayward is 100 percent, so we’d see a complete reform of what we’re used to in Houston.

For Boston, they’d be giving up the most in return for the least. Chris Paul, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris (assuming the C’s keep him, they have his Bird Rights and can sign him to a 3-year, $30 million deal) and Al Horford isn’t very sexy on paper. But CP3 will find himself master of a team consisting of  shooters. He’d likely finish the season averaging more assists per game than his two-seasons in Houston.

Flags fly forever. But we’ve seen Ainge waffle on going all-in on one year this last summer involving trading one of Tatum or Brown for Kawhi Leonard. Completely understandable given the circumstances at the time. Going all-in on Paul is a strong 180 turn.

What are the other alternatives if Kyrie leaves? Are we even sure he’ll leave and this isn’t just media spin we continuously fall for? It isn’t outrageous to believe the media is subservient to hot takes and access to superstars. Of course a LeBron mouthpiece pushes for a reunion with Irving despite all the dysfunction going on in Los Angeles.

Ainge is smart to tread carefully with his newfound wealth if Irving and Horford depart. The Lakers are no doubt a tire fire. But they didn’t waste their cap space. Signing Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to one-year deals at least didn’t sacrifice valuable cap space for this summer. We can see Ainge take a similar route with a much smaller check. The aforementioned Rondo could return to Boston to lead the second unit, assuming they don’t bring back Terry Rozier. Fellow former Celtic Jeff Green can also make his way back to Beantown. The 33-year old is coming off two underrated campaigns, can defend and is an awesome finisher near the basket, converting on 67 percent of his 230 attempts in the restricted-area.

No matter what, after Irving and Horford are gone the Celtics are left with a talented, but flawed roster that will outperform the win total of its previous season, but will be nowhere near title contention. It’ll be a year dedicated to decompression after multiple years of high risk and pressure. Something the Celtics fan base admittedly needs, while it simultaneously doesn’t want.

Author: sailboatstudios

Hack. Amateur. Professional quitter.

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