Chris Paul, formally introduced by Warriors, reveals plenty about his motivation

FILE - Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul moves the ball upcourt against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half of Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series April 25, 2023, in Phoenix. Mat Ishbias five-month tenure as the new owner of the Suns has produced a whirlwind of change. Ishbia oversaw his latest big move Sunday, June 18, 2023, when the Suns put together the framework for a trade that would send 12-time All-Star Paul, Landry Shamet and other compensation to the Washington Wizards in exchange for three-time All-Star Bradley Beal. (AP Photo/Matt York, File) (Matt York, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LAS VEGAS – Chris Paul worked out with new teammate Stephen Curry on Sunday morning in Las Vegas. His assessment of the session: They didn't miss too many shots.

Evidently, Paul's time with the Golden State Warriors is off to a flying start.

The veteran point guard revealed more than a few things in his first official interview session as a member of the Warriors: He isn't ready to concede that he's no longer a starter, he doesn't expect this to be his final season as a player and he gleans the same joy from the game now as he did when he was a kid.

And as for how it'll all fit, he doesn't expect that to be a problem.

“Not to like sound crazy or whatnot, but at the end of the day, it's basketball,” Paul said. “You know, it’s not brain surgery. I’m going into a situation with a bunch of guys who’ve been playing together for a long time.”

Paul got traded twice this summer, first from Phoenix to Washington as part of the move that sent Bradley Beal to the Suns, and then again to Golden State as part of the move that sent Jordan Poole to the Wizards.

It’s a move that the Warriors hope leads to both short- and long-term gains. The 38-year-old Paul can still play; the 12-time All-Star averaged 13.9 points and 8.9 assists this past season for Phoenix, effective still in his 18th season in the league.

He’s also not under contract after this coming season. Poole is entering a four-year deal; the big-spending Warriors just couldn’t keep all their highest-paid players together given the constraints of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play on three USA teams, ‘06, ’08 and 2012,” Paul said. “It's high-IQ basketball, guys that play off reads and whatnot, and what you learn is you figure it out. Everybody don't have the answers right now. We’ll practice, I’m sure there’s going to be some things that I've got to learn, some things that they've got to learn about me, but that’s the case with any team.”

He has appeared in 1,214 regular-season games and another 149 in the playoffs, and has started every single one of them. But it obviously seems unlikely that he would supplant guards Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson in Golden State’s starting lineup.

So, at 38 years old and about to enter his 19th NBA season, Paul could find himself in a new position. But there is an obvious tradeoff, since the Warriors will almost certainly be considered a title-contender going into next season after winning four championships in the last decade — and Paul has never gotten his championship. He went to the NBA Finals with Phoenix in 2021, but the Suns blew a 2-0 series lead and lost to Milwaukee in six games.

“It'll be a conversation for us when camp starts. ... I think we'll figure all that stuff out,” Paul said.

The histories of Paul and the Warriors have long been intertwined. Paul has scored more points against Golden State than he has any other team – 1,172, which is 14 more than he scored against the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s played 18 playoff games against them, tied for his most against any opponent; he’s also played against San Antonio 18 times in the postseason.

Among active players, including playoffs, nobody has played more games or has more assists against the Warriors than Paul does, and LeBron James and James Harden are the only active players with more points against Golden State.

And there’s the history that Paul probably wishes he could forget, how two of his best shots at a championship were thwarted by the Warriors. In 2018, Paul and the Houston Rockets had a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference finals before he got hurt, missed the final two games and Golden State prevailed — on the way to the NBA title. And in 2019, the Warriors beat Paul and the Rockets again, that time in the West semifinals before ultimately falling to Toronto in the NBA Finals.

He said even his family can't believe he's with the Warriors now.

“It is what it is,” Paul said. “Sports.”

The Warriors will be seeking a fifth title in 10 years this coming season, and Paul has never won a ring. But when asked if that was his sole motivation for still playing, Paul insisted that he just still loves the game — and intends to keep playing for multiple years.

“I get a chance to play basketball every day and say, ‘that’s my way of life,’” Paul said. “So you're saying, ‘why do I do it?’ For the same reason I did it when I was 4 or 5 years old. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t spend the time training and working out and hooping and being away from my family if I didn’t love it. That hasn't changed.”

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