At media day, Thunder guard Chris Paul says he enjoyed his two seasons with the Houston Rockets and wishes the team nothing but the best.
It seems like the Houston Rockets made their blockbuster trade for Chris Paul just the other day, but it’s already been two full years.
After suffering two crushing defeats at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in the postseason and Paul showing signs of age, the Rockets decided to trade him to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook.
While Paul’s injuries kept Houston from advancing to the Finals in 2018 and Houston failed to get over the hump again in 2019, you’d still have to consider Paul’s tenure in Houston a success. The team won a franchise record 65 games in the 2017-18 season and was the biggest threat to Golden State’s throne in the last two years. Sure, they failed to take down one of the best teams in NBA history, but so did every other team in the league. With all due respect to the NBA champion Raptors, the Warriors weren’t anywhere close to full speed in the 2019 Finals without both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
Not to mention, Paul was the main piece in the deal for Russell Westbrook, so the Rockets wouldn’t have two of the last three MVP’s without first making the move for Paul back in 2017. Taking a different direction in the backcourt was the right move for Houston. Anytime there’s a chance to land a former MVP whose a triple-double machine, you have to take the opportunity.
Despite all of the ups and downs, Paul had a lot of positive things to say about his tenure in Houston, via The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani.
“It’s tough. I enjoyed my 2 years there. It was amazing. I had some unbelievable opportunities. Made some great relationships. But it’s business. Things happen. I wish them nothing but the best.”
At the end of Paul’s answer, he mentioned that everyone wants to tell his story, but he’s going to continue to stay true to himself moving forward. That was obviously a shot at the media, but you also have to wonder if it was a shot at Rockets owner Tilman Feritta.
In an interview with The Athletic (subscription required) a few weeks ago, Fertitta said that James Harden and Russell Westbrook can talk to each other on the floor and not hurt each other’s feelings since they’ve been friends for so long, instead of one player trying to take a mentor role over the other. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that Fertitta’s comments were directed at Chris Paul, who sometimes bickered with Harden on the floor.
Despite multiple reports about Harden and Paul’s fractured relationship, Harden said that he was on good terms with Paul before the trade with OKC and called the reports “false talk.” It’s hard to decipher between facts and fiction in these types of situations, as players downplay drama to keep it in the locker room and the media always blows everything out of proportion, so the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Either way, Paul had nothing but nice things to say about his time with the Houston Rockets and both parties have seemed to move on from the past.