Clippers trade Chris Paul to Houston where he’ll team with James Harden – Orange County Register

After six seasons and just as many playoff disappointments, Chris Paul’s time with the Clippers appears to be over.

The Vertical reported early Wednesday that after Paul informed the Clippers he would sign as a free agent with the Houston Rockets, the teams negotiated a trade that will land the Clippers several role players and a 2018 first round pick in exchange for the perennial All-Star.

According to the report, the Clippers will receive former Lakers reserve Lou Williams, small forward Sam Dekker and point guard Patrick Beverley.

In order to execute a trade, Paul had to agree to opt in to the final year of his contract, which will pay him just over $24 million, setting him up to enter free agency next summer. Last weeks reports surfaced that Paul would exercise an opt-out clause in his contract after power forward Blake Griffin did the same.

Before being traded to the Clippers in 2011, Paul spent six seasons with the New Orleans Hornets. He has career averages of 18.1 points and 9.2 assists per game.

It is a stunning move that could upset the power balance in the Western Conference, as teams scramble to assemble “super teams” to contend with the Golden State Warriors. In Houston, Paul will team up with James Harden, who enjoyed a career year last season after coach Mike D’Antoni moved him to point guard.

Harden was the runner-up for the Most Valuable Player award, announced on Monday, for the second time in three years.

While it’s unclear how exactly those two ball-dominant guards will coexist, The Vertical reported the two “were determined to play together.”

It’s a crippling blow to the Clippers, whose championship hopes were largely contingent on the front office’s ability to retain Paul and Griffin. The Clippers finished 51-31 last season and earned homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs,  only to lose in seven games to the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz.

The Clippers won 50 games in each of the past five seasons, and won 40 in…

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