The idea of the Philadelphia 76ers trading for Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul has been a topic in Sixers circles for months. Team officials had reportedly been seriously debating the notion back in early September. Here at Liberty Ballers, we have had podcasts discussing the mechanisms of getting a deal done, and op-eds clamoring for it to happen already. The addition of Doc Rivers, Paul’s former head coach in Los Angeles, sparked those fires anew.
Now, there’s yet another fun wrinkle to the conversation as Daryl Morey arrives to become Philadelphia’s new president of basketball operations. During his decade-plus tenure as general manager of Houston Rockets, one throughline was Morey’s propensity for going out and getting big names, from James Harden, to Dwight Howard, to Chris Paul himself, to Russell Westbrook, to finally, the biggest fish of all, Lord Robert Covington. Morey described his star-driven philosophy at a press conference in June 2017 after acquiring Paul (transcription courtesy of Bleacher Report):
“It’s a weapons race in the NBA. You’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines. We felt like this is, with James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there.”
Morey was obviously a huge fan of Paul’s game, but you need to also factor in the reality that the ex-Rockets GM later traded Paul away to Oklahoma City in exchange for Westbrook. Paul was apparently very surprised when that deal went down, as he described in a December 2019 interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
“My initial reaction?” Paul said with a laugh. “I was shocked. 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.”
So it’s hard to say with any certainty what the state of the relationship between the two might be.
Regardless, as with Rivers’ arrival, I’m sure Morey coming to Philadelphia will bring up Paul’s name in the rumor mill once again. Will this offseason be “Daryl Morey and Chris Paul: Subsequent TradeFilm?” Or will the front office’s new top decision-maker decide that the franchise’s asset cupboard is too bare, and giving up Matisse Thybulle, the 21st overall pick, etc. would not be the most prudent option moving forward? We’ll find out soon enough in what has shaped up to be an incredibly exciting Sixers offseason.