HOUSTON – It's official, Clutch City... CP3 is here!
It’s the beginning of a new era for the Houston Rockets after trading a small army for nine-time All-star Chris Paul and signing James Harden to a monster contract extension.
This looks like it'll be one of, if not the, most powerful backcourts in the NBA this upcoming season.
The Rockets held a news conference Friday afternoon to introduce Paul to the city, and a rally that is open to fans of CP3 at the Toyota Center.
VIDEO: Full CP3 news conference
"To be here at this point in my career, it's all about winning. I'm excited about the team and the organization," Paul said.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey talked about an "historic pairing" of Paul and MVP runner-up James Harden.
"(They are) two of the best passers in NBA history," Morey said. "It gives us an unbelievable chance at getting back to getting our third championship."
Paul said there hadn't been a day that passed by in which he and Harden didn't speak.
"I think we expect a lot out of each other, but we also understand it's going to be a work in progress," Paul said.
He then joked that when he and Harden got together there was a basketball in the room and they were fighting over it.
"It's not about me coming here just to help (Harden). He's going to help me and we're going to help each other," Paul said. "I expect a lot out of not only myself, but our guys. It's also up to us to give our input and push each other.
When asked about his lack of a championship ring, Paul quoted Ricky Bobby from the movie "Talladega Nights," saying if you aren't first, then you're last.
"When you want to win, you'll do whatever it takes," he said of himself and Harden.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni, who coached Paul for Team USA, said Paul will push him as much as he'll push Paul.
When asked about the Rockets interest in Carmelo Anthony, Paul said, "One step at a time. I'm just trying to get through this press conference."
When asked about getting a grill now that he's in Houston, Paul said, "Absolutely."
However, D'Antonio misunderstood and Paul laughed and said, "No, not a smoker, coach. I'm going to get (D'Antoni) one too!"
VIDEO: Learn more about Chris Paul
The Rockets acquired Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this month in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year and cash considerations. The Rockets acquired Hilliard from Detroit and Liggins from Dallas for cash considerations before adding them to the deal.
Both the Clippers and Houston will look far different next season than they did in falling short in the playoffs again weeks ago.
The 32-year-old Paul will soon be playing for his third team after opting in for the last year of his contract so the Clippers could work on a deal.
The All-Star has averaged 18.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals over his 12-year career, though he has been dogged with criticism in recent years for failing to help the Clippers get out of the second round of the playoffs. Los Angeles reached the postseason in each of Paul's six seasons with the team, but the Clippers were eliminated in the first round three times and in the Western Conference semifinals three other times.
VIDEO: Rockets hold press conference to announce trade for Chris Paul
Perhaps the most crushing playoff series loss of his tenure with the Clippers came to the Rockets in 2015. Los Angeles had a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals before Houston won the last three games of the series to send Paul and the Clippers home early yet again.
The Clippers were eliminated in the first round the past two seasons and Paul isn't the only star who may be leaving. Blake Griffin informed the team last week that he is opting out of the last year of his contract to explore free agency. J.J. Redick is also a free agent.
In Houston, Paul joins a team that was eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals last season. With Harden's move to point guard last season, Paul's role will probably be a bit different than it has been in Los Angeles.
Friday's event might not be the only big Rockets news conference of the summer as rumor has it, Houston is still the favorite to land Carmelo Anthony if they can put together the right pieces in a trade.
Parking and admission into the rally is free. Fans can buy Chris Paul's brand new No. 3 Rockets jersey. You can even pig out on $1 hotdogs and nachos.
More than fans lined up at Toyota Center in support of Chris Paul.
Just about an hour ago this side of the Toyota Center was packed with people just aching to get their first look at the Rockets new number three.
The first fans started lining up around 10:30 a.m. this morning and by 1 p.m. the line stretched around the block. When they finally made it into the Toyota Center, they were welcomed with new t shirts to buy, dollar hot dogs and nachos, the many elements of the Rockets entertainment team, and of course the official introduction of Chris Paul.
In total more than 5,000 fans showed up today to welcome CP3 to the team - something he acknowledged as one of the things he is most excited about.
Sheemea Catley for instance was one of the first in line for the two o'clock event. A line that started forming around 10:30 a.m. and ended up stretching around the block. For her – it was worth it given how long she's been a cp3 fan.
“Olympics 2012. I forgot, it was a play that he did and I was just like 'oh he cold, who is that' and I looked up his picture and I was like 'oh he cute too' so then I was like 'ok now I'm in love with Chris Paul,’” Catley said.
“I’m more a rockets fan than anything so it's a blessing for him to come here. We need a floor general,” Cedric Marshall said.
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