Veteran point guard Chris Paul was part of the controversial blockbuster deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets last summer. Before the trade happened, Paul got an assurance from the Rockets’ front office that they intended to keep him on their roster for another season. However, they immediately changed their mind about letting the aging superstar stay when Westbrook, the 2017 Most Valuable Player, became available on the trading block, saying that the deal with the Thunder was too good to pass up.
In a recent guest appearance on The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN‘s Zach Lowe, Tim MacMahon of ESPN made some revelations about the controversial blockbuster deal involving the Rockets and the Thunder last offseason. Aside from the opportunity to acquire Westbrook, MacMahon revealed that another reason why the Rockets sent CP3 to Oklahoma City was that team owner Tilman Fertitta viewed his contract as the “worst that he’d ever seen.”
“That trade was made because Tilman Fertitta wanted it made — he thought Chris Paul’s contract was the worst that he’d ever seen in business or sports — and because James Harden wanted it made,” MacMahon said, as quoted by Jack Maloney of CBS Sports. “James Harden, obviously there was a personality clash, this stuff has all been well documented and well reported. I still believe, and I wrote this last summer before things went down. I still believe that if necessary they could have managed that situation; I know a lot of people throughout the organization believe that.”
Former Rockets GM Daryl Morey was reportedly not fully supporting the Paul-for-Westbrook trade. Morey was the one who told Paul that he wouldn’t be traded last summer, but he was left with no choice but to pull the trigger since Fertitta and Harden badly wanted to make it happen. CP3 admitted that he was disappointed by the surprise deal, but being traded to the Thunder turned out to be advantageous for him.
After moving out of the shadow of Harden in Houston, Paul has managed to bring back his old self. He immediately returned from being an All-Star caliber player and successfully rebuilt his trade value. From being a salary cap burden, he’s currently viewed as an interesting trade target for teams that are in dire need of backcourt boost and additional star power to boost their chances of winning the NBA championship title next season.
Meanwhile, despite replacing Paul with Westbrook, the Rockets were still unable to achieve their main goal this year where they only reached the Western Conference Semifinals. After another failed attempt to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, there are speculations that Harden and the Rockets may consider heading into different directions this offseason.