In July, Morey traded Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook.
The most common defense of Morey – external circumstances changed – doesn’t cut it. Sure, the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George. But Morey shouldn’t have guaranteed Paul would stay in Houston without being certain that’d be true in every scenario. The Clippers signing Leonard and acquiring another star wasn’t exactly impossible to foresee.
Besides, Morey – according to Paul – told the point guard directly he wouldn’t be traded to the Thunder well after the other major offseason moves around the league.
“My initial reaction?” Paul said with a laugh. “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.”
Morey declined comment on Paul, saying he was told he wouldn’t be traded to the Thunder, but sources close to the Rockets say Morey told Paul days before the trade there was a “slim chance” he could be dealt to the Thunder and that message may have been misinterpreted.
I don’t know what was precisely said between Paul and Morey. Maybe there was a genuine misunderstanding.
But I do know: Morey said in June that Paul wouldn’t be traded during the offseason. Paul said now that Morey told him days before the trade he wouldn’t be traded to the Thunder.
Those on-the-record statements carry far more weight than the anonymous sources close to the Rockets.
It does seem Houston preferred to send Paul to a better team than Oklahoma City, ideally finding a three-team trade. But when push came to shove and the Rockets had a deal they liked in front of them, they accepted – no matter how it affected Paul or their trustworthiness.