According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Paul shared his decision with the Clippers on Tuesday during a 90-minute meeting. He had spoken extensively with his brother, C.J., to other family members, his closest friends and his agent, Leon Rose of CAA.
He had heard the vision from the Clippers’ front office, with president of basketball operations Doc Rivers and general manager Lawrence Frank sharing their view on the future. Owner Steve Ballmer took part as well. And then, in a move that gave the Clippers a chance to avoid losing him for nothing while also setting him up for a massive payday in 2018, he informed them of their options: Either trade him to Houston after he picked up the $24.2 million option for next season, or watch him opt out and sign with the Rockets in free agency. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
If Eaves is correct, the Clippers had a chance to acquire Carmelo Anthony for Rivers and Jamal Crawford. This would have been a coup for L.A., but Doc Rivers turned down the deal, enraging Paul. In this rare case, both GMs involved look like morons here, Phil Jackson for proposing it and Rivers for refusing it. But what really solidified Paul’s dissatisfaction with Doc was a proposed trade involving Carmelo Anthony last season. New York offered Carmelo and Sasha Vujacic to the Clippers in exchange for Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers, a deal to which Rivers ultimately said no. That event led Paul to feel that keeping his son on the roster was more important to Doc than improving the team. So, ultimately, Paul lost both trust and faith in Doc. As one league executive put it, “Chris despises Doc.”
Doc Rivers spoke to the media and commented on the trade. He spoke at length about why Paul left, his relationship with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers. He defended his players saying that Paul left to go play with Harden because he wanted to. This was most likely in response to reports Wednesday that Paul left due to issues with teammates and the coaching staff. "At the end of the day, when you lose a CP, it's a big loss. I thank him for the years he was here. He left because he wanted to be with James Harden. Let's not get that twisted. I wish him well. I have no problem with that. Do I disagree? Yeah, I think he would have been better served here. But that's not for me. That's CP to decide and he decided against that. We've heard all the stories about Blake and DJ and Austin. I can't comment just on Austin because it's just not right. We've heard he left because of all three today. He left because of DJ, he left because of Blake and now he left because of Austin. We know he didn't leave because of that. There is a lot of speculation on why he left. The one thing I know is he didn't leave because of any of those three guys. He left because he felt like he would have a better chance to win somewhere else."
The salary filler probably can't be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul's decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say.
In addition, sources told ESPN's Michael Eaves that the relationship between Paul and Doc Rivers, the coach and president of basketball operations, had deteriorated rapidly since the Clippers acquired Austin Rivers -- Doc's son -- during the 2015-16 season. Paul met with the Clippers on Tuesday and didn't like what he heard from the team, sources told ESPN. He informed them Tuesday night that he planned to leave in free agency if he declined his option.
The Clippers were determined get something for Paul rather than lose him for nothing, sources told ESPN, so Paul instead agreed to opt in for the final year of his contract (worth $24.2 million) to facilitate the trade.
Bobby Marks: Chris Paul reduced his trade bonus from $3.6m to $661k to make the trade work. Cap hit for Houston in 17-18 is $24.6m.
Jonathan Feigen: FWIW, Chris Paul's twitter account @Chris Paul now lists location of the account as Houston, TX.
Brad Turner: Clippers will also get backup center Montrezl Harrell as part of the Chris Paul trade, per source.
Austin Rivers: Dam....cp3 really dipped, was looking forward to lining up with u next year. Learned a lot from u tho bro. One of the best basketball minds
Jamal Crawford: Gonna miss @CP3, been thru a lot of wars, battles, ups & downs together the last 5 years.. One of the best pg's EVER. #brotherregardless
Ramona Shelburne: Wanna know Jerry West's influence on the Clippers? You're seeing it. He was not in favor of the "just bring everyone back" plan.
Jeff Goodman: Rockets GM Daryl Morey not done yet, source told ESPN. Harden and CP3. Will try and add a third star to compete with Warriors.
Marc J. Spears: Chris Paul was seriously interested in Spurs, source says, but chance to play off ball & share PG duties w/James Harden was more attractive.
Jeff Goodman: Clippers like the upside of Sam Dekker, the toughness of Patrick Beverly and the short-term contracts of both Beverly and Lou Williams. Source said Clippers will go after a big wing in free agency, and try and retain Blake Griffin.
Brad Turner: Can confirm Chris Paul informed Clippers he opt-in on his deal and will be traded to Rockets for Patrick Beverely, Lou Williams, Sam Decker
Mark Berman: Sam Dekker part of blockbuster trade with Clippers that brings Chris Paul to the #Rockets: "I'm excited to see what LA holds. It's a shock." pic.twitter.com/BuAu6h7HdK
Jeff Goodman: Clippers had strong feeling that Chris Paul was headed out of LA, source told ESPN. Instead of getting nothing, got value from Houston.
LeBron James: My brother off to a new journey! Best of luck @Chris Paul!! H-Town y'all got a great one coming to your city. #BrotherHood🙏🏾
Jeff Goodman: Spurs didn't show significant interest in Chris Paul, source told ESPN. Already have an aging point guard in Tony Parker.
Adrian Wojnarowski: After Chris Paul agreed to opt-in on contract, Clippers are trading All-Star guard to the Houston Rockets, league sources tell @The Vertical
Mark Berman: NBA sources confirm #Rockets trade for Chris Paul. Clippers get Beverley, Dekker, Williams and 2018 first round pick.
The Houston Rockets have emerged as increasingly serious threats in the chase for soon-to-be free agent Chris Paul, according to league sources.
The Rockets still have work to do in terms of clearing sufficient salary-cap space to make a representative offer for Paul, but sources said that Houston star James Harden has been advocating hard in favor of the Paul pursuit and has made his interest in teaming with the LA Clippers' All-Star known directly to the point guard.
The Clippers, sources say, continue to worry that they won't be able to convince Paul to remain despite their considerable financial advantage over external suitors.
Ben Dubose: ESPN's @ChrisBHaynes is on @SportsCenter now. His top FA storyline? Chris Paul and the #Rockets. "Serious chance of luring Chris Paul away."
Paul also has plans to talk with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, one executive said. Griffin can sign a five-year deal worth $175 million with L.A., or sign a four-year deal worth $130 million with another team. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams that will make a bid for Griffin, according to several executives. “West knows he has a big task ahead of him with the Clippers,” one executive said. “But he feels as if Steve Ballmer is going to be one of the great owners in this league.”
April 21, 2021 | 3:08 am EDT Update
Ohm Youngmisuk: DeMarcus Cousins has no time for PG hate: “We gotta stop the PG slander. It just won’t be accepted around me. He’s one of the most gifted players in this league and every chance I get, I’m gonna give him his flowers.”
StatMuse: The Clippers are 17-5 since the All-Star break. 1st in win percentage 1st in offensive rating 1st in 3P% 2nd in net rating 4th in FG% 5th in defensive rating The hottest team in the NBA right now.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Paul George on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’re getting flashes of vintage Boogie… what will be most impressive about his game is that he automatically draws double teams. He’s instant offense for us, dump the ball down there for him and he’s a playmaker.”
Eric Nehm: A league source has confirmed @Jim Owczarski’s earlier reporting to The Athletic. Mamadi Diakite has grabbed the Bucks’ 15th roster spot on a multi-year deal and the Bucks signed Justin Jackson to fill his two-way spot. Their roster is full at 17 players (15 + 2 two-way deals).
Kyrie Irving capped a 32-point performance with a tough turnaround jumper, a driving layup through converging defenders and four free throws in the final minute, and the Brooklyn Nets held on for a 134-129 victory over the reeling New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. “Obviously, when Kyrie does his thing and hits tough shots like that, it truly saves us,” said Nets forward Blake Griffin, who had 16 points and eight rebounds in a reserve role. “But I thought overall we did a better job of just trying to like, do it by committee, moving off the ball and not settling.”
Williamson, who was debuting his own Jordan brand basketball shoe, scored 33 points, mostly on strong moves in the paint that produced dunks and contested layups. Brandon Ingram added 27 points for the Pelicans, who fell four games behind Golden State and San Antonio for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference with 14 games left in the regular season. “I’m not going to lie,” Williamson said. “It does get kind of annoying to sit up here every other game saying we’re right there and we’re not closing out. So, I think we’ve got to focus on some of those small things. I say it over and over, but until we do it, some of those outcomes aren’t going to change.”
Scott Kushner: Zion says the players “take the blame” on this one. Said SVG told them they were a bit lifeless at times on the bench. Says it’s “annoying” to keep revisiting explanations about how close they are.