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Doc Rivers: Chris Paul not ´a villain´ for leaving Clippers for Rockets

Doc Rivers says Chris Paul’s departure from the Los Angeles Clippers does not make the Houston Rockets’ new point guard “a villain”.

Nine-time All-Star Paul was traded on Wednesday, the Clippers dealing him to the Rockets in return for a litany of players including Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker and Lou Williams, as well as the 2018 first-round pick.

Paul was due to become a free agent anyway, but opted in to the final year of his Clippers contract to facilitate the trade.

Head coach Rivers rejected suggestions personal issues with his son Austin Rivers and fellow Clippers stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had played a role in Paul’s exit.

He told ESPN: “Let’s not make this story about Blake and DJ and Austin. This story is about Chris leaving. He is the one that decided to leave. That doesn’t make him a villain. He had the right to do that. And I have no problem with that. That’s what free agency is.

“Was I disappointed with his decision? Yeah. I though he had a better chance to win with us. He didn’t agree with that. And that’s fine too. … But ain’t nobody at fault. The fault is we didn’t do well enough to keep him. We played a role in that. In not winning. But Chris was part a that too. He was on that team that didn’t win.

“So, we all played a part in not winning. That’s just life. It wasn’t my fault or Jamal’s [Crawford] fault or whoever. It was all of us. Chris was on that team that didn’t win too. He didn’t do something right. I didn’t do something right. Blake and DJ. I’m sure we all did something that wasn’t perfect. But that’s life and I have no problem with that.”

On the breakup of the core of Paul, Griffin and Jordan that twice narrowly missed out on the Western Conference Finals in 2014 and 2015, Rivers added: “That part is over. And that bugs me. But we’re not done trying to reach our goal. Sometimes you got to do it a different way. Because the way we tried to do it didn’t work.”

Griffin is also likely depart in free agency, and Rivers is prepared to lead a rebuild should that happen.

“I’ve done it three times. Rebuilding is [tough],” he said. “But it’s better when you’re in the trenches. [In L.A.] I’m involved every day. I’ve thought if I’m going to ever do that again, I’m going to have my fingerprint on it.”

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