Newly-minted Houston Rocket Chris Paul said he’s a person who is “not big on change,” but the All-Star point guard has been forced to embrace a plethora of change since being traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the championship-aspiring Rockets.
In an interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated, Paul said his move away from “Lob City” was good not just for him but also for the organization. The Clippers traded Paul to Houston — after Paul opted in to the final year of his contract — in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and a 2018 first round pick among other assets, hardly coming up empty handed despite losing the face of their franchise.
“It had nothing to do with who was in L.A., but more to do with who was in Houston,” Paul said of the move. “I feel like the last six years we’ve had a great run. I felt like it was not only a good time for change for me, but for the team, too. Everyone says, ‘We get killed. We can’t get there. We just can’t get over the hurdle.’ I felt like it was time for a change.
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“It’s crazy to look back at the videos of us six years ago. No one ever saw anything like that. I’m going to miss those guys. When you’re together that long, you’re more than teammates.”
Paul also was open about his transition to Houston, and when pressed about the possibility of the Rockets adding his friend, Carmelo Anthony, to an already star-studded roster, Paul hinted: “Man, sit back and wait.”
Paul said NBA MVP runner-up James Harden’s influence on his decision came down to selflessness, and that figuring out who runs point next season will come naturally.
“Just the fact that it’s all about winning,” Paul said. “We talked, obviously, he had a great year last year. Everything was about winning games. He just wants to win.”
Paul said he called his ex-Clipper teammates after the trade happened, including superstars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. He also called Austin Rivers and quickly dismissed reports about his dismay with coach Doc Rivers coddling his son, adding that he has the “utmost” respect for the elder Rivers.
“Just like I called Blake and those guys, I called Austin,” Paul said. “I wish him the best of luck with what he has going on in the future. …No, that report wasn’t true. If anything, Austin has grown up a lot and is getting better.”
Paul mentioned his “unbelievable” relationship with owner Steve Ballmer and added that he’s “leaving Los Angeles with nothing but love.”