Chris Paul

Asked about getting stabbed in back, Chris Paul points to trade from Rockets

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Chris Paul has gotten traded three times in his career.

New Orleans sent him to the Clippers – but only after David Stern nixed a deal with the Lakers – in 2011. In 2017, Paul engineered a trade to the Rockets by opting in. Then, in an unprecedented star swap, Houston dealt Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook last summer.

Paul recently discussed trades with comedian Kevin Hart.

Hart:

Why is it always such a crazy time when it comes to these trades and whether they’re happening. You’ve been part of some big conversations. Is it at a point where it’s just business, or is it becoming personal?

Paul:

Every situation is different. But the team is going to do whatever they want to do. They’ll tell you one thing and do a smooth nother thing.

Hart:

That’s the business side.

Paul:

Exactly.

Hart:

Do you feel like there’s been times where, “Damn, that’s a little eye-opening. I got stabbed in the back”?

Paul:

Absolutely. This last situation was one of them. 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.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is an easy target right now. Many people around the NBA resent him tweeting support for Hong Kong protesters (who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms) and costing the league significant revenue in China.

But, in this case, Morey brought it upon himself. He said in June he wouldn’t trade Paul then did so, anyway.

Maybe that was to protect Paul’s feelings if he stayed in Houston. In that case, Morey could tell Paul he believed in him all along. There’d be no way to know Morey was fibbing. Now that Paul is gone, Paul being upset is someone else’s problem. It’s a common tactic by executives.

Paul reportedly requested a trade from the Rockets, but he denied it. I don’t necessarily believe Paul. There was plenty of evidence of tension between him and Harden. It’d be pretty conniving to request a trade then throw Morey under the bus for making the trade.

But Paul’s denial of a trade request is on the record. So is Morey’s declaration that he wouldn’t trade Paul.

Morey must own that.

Rumor: Chris Paul would like to play for Milwaukee Bucks

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To be fair, you could probably say, “Chris Paul wants to play for…” and insert half the league into that sentence and not be wrong. What CP3 wants is to get minutes and compete on a team with the potential to make a deep playoff run. He had that with the Clippers and Rockets, even if those teams didn’t make the deep runs he had hoped.

ESPN’s Ryen Russillo is well connected and dropped this tidbit today on The Woj Pod (hat tip Real GM).

“I had heard he wanted to go to Milwaukee. Of course, you’d want to go play with Giannis.”

Whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo can draw star free agents to Milwaukee is a legitimate question, one should get answered in the coming years, one that could determine if the Bucks get a ring (or multiple rings). That CP3 might have interest is a good sign.

There’s also almost no chance this happens.

The Bucks already have Eric Bledsoe and George Hill at the point, plus Antetokounmpo is going to want to have the ball in his hands a lot of the time. Both of them are under contract for this season and next, and combined they make $12 million less than Paul does by himself. Remember, CP3 had four years, $124 million left on his contract coming into this season.

On top of all that are the fit issues. The Bucks want to play fast and attack in transition, Paul wants to slow it down and survey the floor — notice how much faster the Rockets are playing with Russell Westbrook in for CP3. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.

Expect a lot of Chris Paul rumors over the course of the season. Most of them will have little, if any, chance of happening.

Chris Paul (jokingly?) tells Russell Westbrook to leave Thunder locker room: ‘The Clippers tried to suspend me for this’

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A couple years ago, Chris Paul joined several other Rockets heading toward the Clippers locker room for a confrontation. (The NBA determined Paul followed to play peacemaker.)

Last night, Paul – traded from Houston to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook last summer – was on the other side of a locker room entered by an opposing player after a game.

Mark Medina of USA Today:

The fiery point guard entered the Thunder’s locker room. Within seconds, Russell Westbrook heard a stern and playful message.

“You’re in the wrong locker room,” a few Thunder players joked.

“The Clippers tried to suspend me for this,” Paul joked, referring to when the Rockets attempted to barge into the Clippers’ locker room following contentious on-court exchanges during a 2018 game. “Come on man. You got to get out of here.

Paul Joked? He might have said it in a playful tone. But Paul takes everything so seriously. Some players also legitimately object to opponents entering the locker room.

I respect Medina’s read on the situation, but I’m unconvinced Paul had no sincerity behind his words.

During 2016 Olympics, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan discussed teaming up in NBA

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Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly decided before last season to sign with the same team in free agency last summer.

Apparently, they planned to join forces well before that.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh famously strengthened their bond during the 2008 Olympics before teaming up on the Heat in 2010.

Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan had a similar experience with the 2016 Olympics. Team USA spent the Rio Games on a cruise ship called the Silver Cloud.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

There were endless conversations about basketball, including how LeBron James had orchestrated his own “friend group” in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that yielded two titles. One of the final nights on the Silver Cloud, as Ky, KD and DJ clinked glasses, Jordan recalls Irving saying, “Hey, this would be cool to do for real.”

“I asked him, ‘What you mean by that?'” Jordan says, “and Ky said, ‘Let’s all get on the same team and play together.'”

It’s cool for Durant, Irving and Jordan they made this happen with the Nets three years later.

It’s also worth remembering: Players often talk about teaming up. Those plans come to fruition far less frequently.

This isn’t even the most famous toast about a big-name trio. At Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, Chris Paul toasted to forming a big three with Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Anthony ultimately forced his way from the Nuggets to Stoudemire’s Knicks, but Paul never joined them. That’s how it usually goes.

So, you could use this Rio anecdote to question Durant’s commitment to the Warriors (Draymond Green certainly did), Irving’s commitment to the Cavaliers and Celtics (plenty of questions in both Cleveland and Boston) and even Jordan’s commitment to the Mavericks (Jordan’s effort in Dallas was questionable, but his other teams – Clippers and Knicks – were different as potential Durant-Irving destinations).

I think that’s the wrong narrative, though. Just because Irving, Durant and Jordan once talked about teaming up doesn’t mean it was inevitable – just as it wasn’t inevitable Paul, Anthony and Stoudemire would team up just because they talked about it. Sometimes, among all the unlikelihoods, one becomes reality.

Mike D’Antoni on lame duck coaching status: ‘It’s a non-issue’

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In the NBA, lame-duck coaches are rare. Either the team likes the coach and locks him up long term, or they don’t and want to get a new guy in the door.

That didn’t happen with Houston and Mike D’Antoni, where an on-again, off-again summer contract negotiation (and rumored one-year offers) led to no deal getting done. D’Antoni is coaching through the final season of his contract and then… who knows?

Just don’t try to sell to D’Antoni that his status impacts him or the team. Via Mark Medina of the USA Today.

“It’s not going to change the way I coach or how I feel trying to compete,” D’Antoni told USA TODAY Sports. “So then we’ll see next summer with what happens.”

“I got a great group of guys that I don’t think care. They won’t be affected by it,” D’Antoni said. “I won’t be affected by it. So it’s a non-issue.”

Right now he is right, this is not an issue. Houston’s inconsistent defense is an issue, but nobody on the team is thinking about D’Antoni’s status while going through practices or games.

Where it becomes an issue is if there is a player conflict — if Russell Westbrook and James Harden started to disagree about the offense’s direction (as happened last year with Harden and Chris Paul) — and the sides don’t want to deal with D’Antoni because they see him as a short-timer. It could undermine D’Antoni with long-term issues.

Short term, the Rockets are just trying to figure out how to win.

How well that goes could well determine if D’Antoni — and other decision-makers in the organization — are back next season.