Ex-Rockets Guard Chris Paul Was 'Shocked' By Trade to Thunder
Chris Paul helped guide the Rockets to a pair of 50-win seasons in the last two years, tallying 118 victories and a Western Conference finals appearance in 2017-18. And following a loss to the Warriors in the West semifinals in May, Paul assumed he would be returning to Houston for a third shot at the Finals alongside James Harden. Daryl Morey had other plans.
The Rockets general manager shipped Paul and a haul of draft picks to Oklahoma City in exchange for Russell Westbrook on July 11, marking one of the summer's biggest blockbuster moves. Paul reflected on the trade on Wednesday, saying he was "shocked" by the deal, according to The Undefeated's Marc Spears.
"My initial reaction? I was shocked," Paul told Spears. "Truth be told, I just talked to [Morey] a couple days before the trade and he said he wasn’t going to trade me [to Oklahoma City].
Morey didn't respond to Paul's comments regarding the trade, but he noted his appreciation for Paul's time with the Rockets.
“[Paul] got us as close to winning a title as we’ve been since Hakeem Olajuwon,” Morey told Spears. “He was a great Rocket. I wish him the best going forward. I am a big fan of Chris. I have nothing but love for him.”
Paul and the Rockets ripped off 65 wins in his first year with the franchise, landing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Houston seized a 3–2 lead on the Warriors in the West finals, but Paul injured his hamstring in the last minutes of Game 5, keeping him out for the rest of the series. The Rockets dropped the next two games, losing Game 7 at home 101-92.
Paul boasts a similar statistical profile to last season in his first year with the Thunder. The nine-time All-Star is averaging 15.7 points per game while shooting 45.6% from the field. It's been an uneven start for Russell Westbrook in Houston, with the 2016-17 MVP shooting 41%, his worst mark since his rookie year in 2008-09.