Chris Paul cant stand Doc Rivers, and that, as much as any other reason, is why the nine-time All-Star is leaving the Clippers and heading to Houston, where he’ll team up with James Harden.
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the Clippers had agreed to trade Paul to Houston in exchange for point guard Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, cash and a top-three protected first-round pick in next year’s draft. For both parties, the move made all the professional sense in the world. By opting into the final year of his deal and being shipped off, Paul gets to earn $24 million while freeing himself up to re-sign for $200 million should he remain with the Rockets or $150 million should he join another squad next summer, when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Paul George could all be unrestricted free agents.
But there were also irreconcilable personal differences between Paul and Clippers coach and team president Doc Rivers, who according to ESPN’s Michael Eaves, favored his son, reserve Austin Rivers, to the detriment of the team, nixing a deal that would’ve sent Carmelo Anthony to the Clippers last season.
Paul’s relationship with Doc Rivers started to deteriorate rapidly after the Clippers acquired Austin Rivers. Several members of the team felt Austin acted entitled because his dad was both the coach and the President of Basketball Operations. In the view of the tenured players, Austin Rivers never tried to fit in, and when players tried to address the situation with him, he still did not respond the way the core of the team wanted him to. It led to resentment within the locker room, which often played out during games. One of Paul’s biggest contentions with Doc was that Paul, and other players, felt Doc treated Austin more favorably than other players. He would yell at guys for certain things during games and practices, but not get on Austin in the same manner for similar transgressions.
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.”
Paul led the Clippers to the playoffs in each of his six seasons in red, white and blue, but never reached the conference finals. Last season, the Clippers won 50 or more games for the fifth straight time and earned the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference only to fall to the Jazz after Paul and Blake Griffin suffered season-ending injuries.
Pairing the 32-year-old Paul, who averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game with Harden (29.1 ppg, 11.2 apg, 8.1 rpg) gives the Rockets one of the league’s best backcourts along with Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
Despite Eaves’ report, there was no beef between Paul and Austin Rivers as the now ex-Clipper packed his bags for Houston.
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
— Austin Rivers (@AustinRivers25) June 28, 2017