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.
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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.
Daryl Morey: Welcome to the @HoustonRockets @CP3 !!!
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
Chandler Parsons: Is it too late to lock CP in a house
Sam Amick: The 2018 first that Houston sends to the Clippers is top three protected, I’m told.
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.
Paul Pierce: To the ?? Wow!! Emoji game in point ????
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.
Chris Broussard: Sources: Jerry West was not in yesterday’s meeting between CP3 and the Clippers.
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.”
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May 5, 2021 | 5:24 pm EDT Update
Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard had some high praise for Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant on the Dan Patrick Show. Lillard claimed that Durant could be the best player in the league, which is a lofty title considering some of the great players (Lillard included) in the game today.
“I think KD (Durant) healthy could very well be the best player in the NBA,” Lillard said. “I mean nobody can guard him. If he’s healthy, he’s shooting threes off the dribble, pulling up off the dribble, posting up. He can get to the rim. You can’t block his shot. The way he handles the ball and moves at that size, who are you going to put on him? When healthy, I think at this moment, he could very well be the best player in the league.”
Kelly Iko: The Houston Rockets plan to sign former Pistons guard Khyri Thomas, league sources tell myself and @Alykhan Bijani.