Last summer’s trade that sent Chris Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook was driven by the dismay Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta had over Paul’s contract, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on the latest edition of The Lowe Post podcast.
Reflecting on Daryl Morey’s tenure in Houston, MacMahon said Fertitta and James Harden were more insistent on the deal than the team’s former general manager. Harden had clashed with Paul during their final season as teammates, and Fertitta believed Paul’s contract “was the worst that he’d ever seen in business or sports,” according to MacMahon.
MacMahon emphasizes that Morey didn’t openly object to making the trade, but was compelled to act because of the wishes of his “two bosses,” Fertitta and Harden. He adds that many people in the Rockets’ organization believe the relationship between Paul and Harden could have been salvaged if Westbrook hadn’t been available.
Paul, 35, still has two seasons left on the four-year, $160MM contract the Rockets gave him in the summer of 2018. He played just one season in Houston after signing the deal, as the team shipped him and a parcel of draft picks to Oklahoma City in exchange for Westbrook.
Paul was outstanding in leading the Thunder to the playoffs in what many considered to be a rebuilding year, but his age and contract make him a candidate to be traded again before the start of next season.