This July, it will be nearly two years since Chris Paul was a member of the Houston Rockets.
In that time, Paul seemingly made amends with Houston, the Rockets bounced a Paul-led Oklahoma City Thunder from the Playoffs, Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns, Daryl Morey left Houston, Russell Westbrook was traded from the Rockets to the Washington Wizards, James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and the Rockets became the worst team in the NBA — oh, and between all that, a global pandemic hit. So it’s only natural that with less than a month left in the 2021 season, we’re still talking about the love-less departure of Paul from Houston.
If we’re still hearing about Houston ditching Carmelo Anthony any time he racks up 15 points on 15 shots, we’re still going to hear about the turmoil surrounding Harden, Paul, and the Rockets organization.
Granted, Paul actually has a bone to pick with Houston (unlike Melo). In an interview with ESPN, Paul gives some more background to his departure.
Chris Paul moved 15 people with him to Houston, including “his wife, his kids, and his brother and wife and their kids. Cousins. The nanny, the trainer, the masseuse, security people, the chef.” Paul was given the supermax of four years, so he had every reason to believe that he should move everyone and make his life here in Houston.
As I much as I did want to read the piece and completely dismiss Paul’s words as whiny or bitter — especially given the clickbait-y pull quote of “their loss.” Did I get you riled up with that? — it’s a lot tougher to do that when the article opens up with Paul admitting that he believed Houston would be the last stop of his storied career.
Instead, Paul became notified after the Rockets series loss to the Warriors in 2019 that he would likely end up in OKC, despite that fact that “Paul expressed his disappointment and preference to play for a contender.” Obviously, that didn’t stop the trade one bit.
The decision to send him to OKC left such a bitter taste in the mouth of everyone who came with Paul, they all “packed up and left, most of them back to Los Angeles, except Paul himself, who stuffed some clothes in a duffel and started looking for an apartment in Oklahoma City.”
Paul didn’t have much more to expound on concerning his trade from Houston, and that’s probably all we need to know really, but he did have one thing to say about this now shell-of-its-former-self Rockets team: “their loss.”
In the end, with how everyone left, especially with how James Harden left, it’s hard not to feel bad for Paul — though, maybe not right now with his team being one game behind the top seed in the Western Conference — because he truly did deserve better from the Rockets, and ESPECIALLY from Harden. But now we know that there was nothing management could do. It was going to be championship or (literally) bust in 2020, and Harden felt that was best accomplished with Westbrook by his side.
So yeah, it sure as hell is “our loss” when it comes to not retaining Paul beyond 2019, but it sure as hell isn’t our decision.