After 14 years in the NBA, Chris Paul is still considered an elite point guard. But even the top players in the league aren’t exempt from falling victim to an organization’s bottom line to win a championship.
Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in July for Russell Westbrook and two first-round draft picks, as well as two first-round swap options.
In 2017, when the native North Carolinian was traded to the Houston Rockets by the Los Angeles Clippers to play with James Harden, it’s safe to say the Rockets thought they had enough to at least make it to the NBA Finals. But that never happened, which might’ve led to Paul’s trade.
It’s something Paul spoke to Kevin Hart about on the comedian’s “Cold as Balls” series after Hart said the hoop star has been part of some big trade talks.
“Is it at a point where it’s just business or is it becoming personal?” Hart asked him. “Do you feel like there’s been times where, ‘Damn, that’s a little eye-opening, I got stabbed in the back?'”
“Every situation is different,” answered Paul. “But the team is going to do whatever they want to do. They’ll tell you one thing and do a smooth ‘nother thing.”
“This last situation was one of them,” the NBA star continued. “The GM there in Houston, he don’t owe me nothing. He may tell me one thing but do another thing. But you just understand that that’s what it is.”
Paul certainly isn’t the first NBA player who talked about how he felt after a trade. Isaiah Thomas, who was traded by the Boston Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017, also spoke about it. But unlike Paul, he chose to blast his former team.
That’s because Thomas was the face of the franchise and led them to a conference final before being traded. And he spoke about how team owners may have too much control over players.
“I want them to see how my getting traded, just like that, without any warning by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for and bled for and put my everything on the line for. It’s like, man, with a few exceptions unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100 it’s the owners with the power,” wrote Thomas in 2017 for The Players’ Tribune
As for Paul — who, along with Westbrook, is the second-highest paid player in the league this season with a salary of $38,506,482 for 2019-2020 — the Rockets haven’t responded to him talking about feeling backstabbed by the trade.