HOUSTON – Chris Paul didn’t talk about his legacy, and never uttered the word “championship” on Friday when he was officially introduced as the newest member of the Houston Rockets.
Still, Paul’s motivation for opting into the last year of his contract so the Los Angeles Clippers could orchestrate his trade to Houston was clear. He and the Rockets believe that adding him to a team headlined by James Harden gives both parties a much better shot to chase a title.
“It’s not just about me coming here to help him,” Paul said. “He’s going to help me. We’re going to help each other, and we’re going to help this team hopefully get to where we want to be at.”
The Rockets haven’t won a championship since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95, and knew they had to add another superstar to this team which was ousted by the Spurs in the second round last season to have any chance to get another one.
“This is a moment that our whole organization has been working toward to get ourselves back to a championship,” general manager Daryl Morey said. “We really do think this is a historic pairing with Chris Paul and James Harden and the great players we have around them.”
Not only has Paul never won a title in his 12-year career, he’s been widely criticized for his inability to advance past the second round of the playoffs. In the past when that fact was brought up, it would invariably elicit a prickly response from Paul.
That wasn’t the case on Friday when Paul smiled and joked throughout a news conference introducing him.
“Really? I didn’t know,” he deadpanned when his playoff shortcomings were broached by a reporter.
Then he got serious.
“I’m ultra-competitive,” he said. “There’s no reason in playing unless you’re playing to win . . . we have one goal here and it’s to win.”
Paul has been one of the top point guards in the NBA over the last decade, averaging 18.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals over his career.
In other news, the Boston Celtics announced Friday that Gordon Hayward has signed his four-year, maximum deal. It comes 10 days after he chose Boston over Utah and Miami in free agency.
Hayward, who will earn about $128 million, was one of the top free agents available and joins a Celtics team that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season.
Hayward was an All-Star last season for the Jazz and averaged 21.9 points. He rejoins Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who coached Hayward in college at Butler.