In the 2019 NBA offseason, Chris Paul found himself being included in the trade package that the Houston Rockets sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Russell Westbrook. Many people already predicted Paul’s departure from Houston since the 2018-19 NBA season came to an end, but the trade was still filled with controversy, especially since Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey gave the veteran point guard an assurance that he wouldn’t be traded last summer. In a recent conversation with comedian Kevin Hart, Paul admitted that he felt like he was “stabbed in the back” after learning that the Rockets traded him to the Thunder.
“Absolutely. This last situation was one of them,” Paul said, as quoted by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “The GM there in Houston, he don’t owe me nothing. You know what I mean? He may tell me one thing but do another thing. But you just understand that that’s what it is.”
When Paul demanded a trade to the Rockets in the summer of 2017, he had shown his determination in helping James Harden bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Houston. Unfortunately, in the two years that they played together, Paul and Harden suffered massive defeats from the hands of the reigning Western Conference champions, Golden State Warriors.
Keeping Paul for another season might have been part of Morey’s plan when the 2019 NBA offseason started. However, things dramatically changed when he saw the opportunity to acquire a player of Westbrook’s caliber. Replacing Paul with a younger and MVP caliber point guard is undeniably a no-brainer for the Rockets as it would help them maximize Harden’s championship window.
With the Western Conference now wide-open, the Rockets are hoping that the tandem of Harden and Westbrook will give them better results in the 2019-20 NBA season. Meanwhile, as of now, it still remains a big question mark what the future holds for Paul in Oklahoma City. The Thunder may currently have enough talents to compete for a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference but since the departure of Westbrook and Paul George, multiple signs are pointing out that Oklahoma City is heading into an inevitable rebuild.
If they finally decide to take a different route, the Thunder will likely start moving their veterans, including Paul, and focus on the development of their young players. Though he’s no longer in his prime, several NBA teams who are in dire need of a backcourt boost are still expected to express a strong interest in Paul before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline. These include the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and the Milwaukee Bucks.