In a somewhat surprising move this offseason, star point guard Chris Paul was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets in exchange for a huge package of players and draft picks.
Paul would have likely left as a free agent had the two teams not agreed to a deal, so at least the Clippers got some sort of return for their star player.
However, that doesn't mean it was any easier to see CP3 leave, and owner Steve Ballmer said it was definitely a tough situation.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Ballmer said he could see the writing on the wall following the Clippers' playoff loss to the Utah Jazz, but still tried to do everything he could to convince CP3 to stay:
"I started getting a hint earlier in the spring from Chris," he said. "I have a good relationship with Chris. I can’t say he said anything. But I was getting a little bit of a vibe and I knew we had to work hard to keep him. After our season, I sat down with Chris right away. We talked, we had breakfast and we stayed in continuous touch on the topic. I knew we were not in the best of shape and I was working my ass off [to keep him], as was everybody else, because he is a Hall of Fame player."
Unfortunately for Ballmer, it wasn't enough, and Paul was eventually traded to Houston, where he'll team up with James Harden this season.
Ballmer said he holds no ill will toward Paul or any of the other players that left this offseason and wishes them nothing but the best:
"The final decision I got from Chris; I was actually talking to him when I was on vacation," he said. "I’m on some ship in the Greek Isles talking to Chris. He called me when I was in these ancient ruins. I sat there looking at these ruins. And he was very emotional as well. We had a heart-to-heart kind of conversation. I’ve had dinner with him since. There’s no reason not to be friendly with the people as people. I’m not rooting for him when he plays us. J.J. [Redick] and Jamal [Crawford], I’ve seen them all since they’ve moved on. I had dinner with J.J. in New York and I went to Jamal’s Pro-Am [in Seattle]."
Still, even though he hopes Paul finds success in Houston, it's clear losing CP3 hurt. Now, though, the Clippers will have even more motivation when they take on the Rockets this season.