Ever since the Houston Rockets sent CP3 packing to Oklahoma City in exchange for Westbrook, I’ve heard many people say they feel bad for him. I’m not exactly sure why.
The Houston Rockets traded Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder and he is certainly facing a difficult decision. He can choose to play out his current deal for 124 million over the next three years and likely play for a non-contender like the current version of the Oklahoma City Thunder or he can choose a much more difficult route. Paul could agree to a very reduced buyout (maybe 50 million) and agree to play for the minimum like his “Banana Boat” buddy Carmelo Anthony.
Granted this is much different than Melo, as he only had one year left on his deal at that point. But the concern is that CP3 may very well find himself out of relevancy because unless he does agree to a buyout (which would likely leave up to 80 million or so on the table), he will certainly not be on a contender. Not many teams have the money to take on his contract and even fewer have the desire to pay CP3 that much money.
But how did it come to this? Chris Paul agreed to opt in to the remaining year on his Clippers contract to come to Houston, in exchange for the promise of a max contract a year later. In his first year here, the Rockets made it to the Conference Finals, which was the first time CP3 had ever gotten that far in the playoffs. The Rockets presented CP3 a realistic shot at winning a title before he got injured. The following off-season, they made good on their promise and signed him to a 4-year deal worth 160 million, which was a contract that paid him more than LeBron James deal of 4 years and 154 million.
I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone to ever rank Chris Paul as a better player than LBJ. The CP3 contract arguably caused the Houston Rockets to miss out on Trevor Ariza, as if CP3 took less money you could argue the Rockets could have used that to keep Ariza. This is similar to how Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took less than the max so the Brooklyn Nets could add DeAndre Jordan. Granted, that was Chris Paul’s choice, as he knew that was his last opportunity to get a max deal. That was his decision to make and the Rockets allowed him to make that decision.
The Rockets made good on a promise they made the previous year to pay CP3 and reward him for opting in, despite being hamstrung by his contract. They also gave him a legitimate opportunity to compete for a title.
They never promised him they would keep him for the duration of his contract. How often does that even happen anyway? Especially in the NBA? We see stars get moved all the time unless a player is immovable, which CP3 was certainly not. If the Rockets were in a situation where CP3 had one year remaining with his current level of play and they decided to trade him, that would be a bit of a different story as he’s clearly not the player he once was and he would certainly have a hard time getting a max deal at this point.
It’s a business
Sure I wish it would have worked out for CP3, who is a future Hall of Fame player without question, but just because that didn’t happen doesn’t mean he was done wrong. At the end of the day, business is business. The Houston Rockets sent him away AFTER giving him his last and final payday. And if you believe the reports of him being unhappy, then they gave him what he asked for.
Personally, I think the Rockets should be commended for doing what they said they would and paying him the following year, despite him being a year older and showing signs of further physical breakdown as he only played 58 games in his first season in Houston and got injured at the worst possible time.
How many times in business does an employer promise a raise or a bump in pay and later find reasons or excuses to not do what they said they would? The Rockets didn’t do that.
Again, I understand that Chris Paul may have just had his last and final shot at competing for a title, but from the Rockets standpoint, they gave him the max deal. They made sure if he was moved, he would still be making 41.3 million per year. But the Rockets have an obligation to put together the best roster most capable of winning a championship and the reality is CP3 no longer presented that.
At least they kept their word and sent him packing while still being paid handsomely. And better yet, at least he has the option to continue to play on that contract OR leave money on the table and play for the minimum on a contending team. After all, he’s already made 222 million in his first 15 years in the league.
But Chris Paul will have to do what he feels is in the best interest of him and his family, in the same way, the HoustonRockets had to do what they felt was in the best interest of the team.