CHRIS PAUL RETURNED

Why were things awkward in Houston Monday night?

Rockets.com

Chris Paul was in Houston on Monday night to play his former team the Houston Rockets. Paul now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder which is Russell Westbrook's old team. Things were real interesting to see how James Harden and Paul intervened with each other on the court.

This past summer, Paul was traded to OKC for the rights to Westbrook. Daryl Morey told reporters that they wanted to keep Paul in Houston. People were suspecting that Paul and Harden were not getting along. Last season, the Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. A source was told that Harden and Paul had a verbal altercation in the locker room. Players on the team denied that there was any tension between the two. Everybody also heard that Harden went to the front office and told them to choose between the two. Harden later on denied that he even went to the front office.

When the Thunder made Westbrook available, the Rockets wanted to figure out every way to get him here. Paul's contract was too huge to move at first but Morey found a way. Harden approved the trade because he wanted to play with his best friend again. Sadly, Paul's time in Houston was cut short after signing a four year extension. The question is should Paul feel betrayed by the trade? No, the fact is that Westbrook is better and younger than Paul. At the end of the day, the NBA is a business, so Paul understands. Even though the Thunder lost, Paul also told reporters after the game that Westbrook gives them an edge. He has watched all of the Rockets game this season.



The Rockets did honor Paul with a tribute video in Monday night's game. Is it because Houston feels bad for trading him? Probably not, but still wanted to show respect to Paul. He had a great first season with the Rockets minus the injuries. Paul was a reason why Houston made it seven games against the Warriors. It will always be a "what if" Paul played in game seven against the Warriors. That will always be a huge question in Houston. Harden and Paul both say that they still have love for each other. This Monday night said otherwise as we saw Harden do petty things to Paul. Neither did one of them speak to each other after the game. Paul spoke to everyone on the team after the game besides Harden. Paul mentioned to reporters that he still keeps in touch with PJ Tucker, Westbrook, and Gary Clark.





Hopefully Harden and Paul can one day tell the real story between them.


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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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