The NBA is a business, and the league's players know this. Trades happen all the time, with or without the approval of the involved individuals, as the organizations are constantly looking to improve their product -- and their bottom line. However, just because the business side of basketball is well understood doesn't mean that players don't sometimes take trades personally. Giving your all to a team just to be shipped out of town can catch a player off guard, even a veteran like Chris Paul.
While speaking recently with Marc Spears of The Undefeated, Paul admitted that he was very surprised by the trade that sent him from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder over the offseason. The main part of Paul's surprise stemmed from the fact that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had promised Paul that he wasn't going to be moving him just days before the trade.
"My initial reaction? I was shocked," Paul said of the trade. "Truth be told, I just talked to Daryl a couple days before the trade and he said he wasn't going to trade me [to Oklahoma City]. That's funny because that is going to be the alert that pops up on everybody's phone because nobody knows that. But what the hell, I just said it."
It's pretty clear that Paul was unhappy with the way that his departure from Houston was handled. Last month, he" by the Rockets.
"Every situation is different," Paul said at the time. "But the team is going to do whatever they want to do. They'll tell you one thing and do a smooth 'nother thing ... The GM there in Houston, he don't owe me nothing. You know what I mean? He may tell me one thing but do another thing. But you just understand that that's what it is."
It's worth noting that Morey also stated publicly that the Rockets weren't going to trade Paul, despite reports to the contrary, just weeks before trading him. Morey has gone on to call the trade that sent Paul to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook , and added that he thought the Rockets would benefit from the addition of a player with an "extra gear."
"Like, it was a really, really intense period," Morey said of the trade. "I've talked about it being the biggest risk ... but people, I think, misinterpreted that I meant Russell [was the risk]. But I meant more like -- whenever you give up a significant chunk of your future, it's [a risk]. If I have any job -- and sometimes I'm the only one worried about it -- it's how do I properly balance the present and the future.
"When you're giving up future [assets], I need to be really careful that I'm making sure the franchise is protected for [owner] Tilman [Fertitta] and things like that ... I'd say the Chris Paul deal that got canceled [by the NBA] was the most intense after [the deal], but prior to a deal, yeah. I don't think anything was close, actually ... We thought we needed to add someone who might have an extra gear."
Considering the fact that Morey said one thing publicly -- and apparently privately, too -- and then did the exact opposite, Paul's feelings of surprise and resentment regarding the Rockets are understandable. Trades are part of the business, but as they say, honesty is the best policy, and it's always a good idea to be truthful with people. If the perception gets out there that the Rockets acted in less than an upfront manner with a future Hall of Famer like Paul, it could negatively impact their chances of landing future free agents.