Chris Paul says he was left blindsided by the trade this past offseason that shipped him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, the veteran point guard attributed his surprise to how Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had assured him such a deal would not occur only days before the transaction took place.
“My initial reaction?” Paul said. “I was shocked. Truth be told, I just talked to Daryl a couple days before the trade and he said he wasn’t going to trade me [to Oklahoma City]. That’s funny because that is going to be the alert that pops up on everybody’s phone because nobody knows that. But what the hell, I just said it.”
The trade between the Rockets and Thunder was made official on July 16, but events that occurred weeks beforehand likely set the wheels in motion.
After the Rockets were eliminated in May by the Golden State Warriors in a Western Conference semifinal showdown, reports surfaced that Paul and Harden had a heated verbal exchange following the team’s postseason-ending Game 6 loss.
The belief that Harden and Paul were not a good fit on the court, along with their evident differences off of it, likely was sufficient enough reason for Morey to make the trade, which of course reunited Harden with one of his former teammates from his Thunder playing days.
Despite how things played out, Paul did indicate that he’s nevertheless happy to still have the opportunity to play the game he loves, even if it comes with a rebuilding Thunder squad.
“I love to hoop too much,” Paul said. “The way my mind is, as long as we’re on the court we have a chance to win. That’s the way I’ve always been. That’s the way I always will be. I’m just grateful to be hooping. … It could be a lot worse.”