Los Angeles Clippers point guard Austin Rivers expects their clash against former starting playmaker Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets to turn personal in the coming season. In an interview with TMZ Sports, Rivers said "they say don't take it personal, but everybody does." He added that fans of both teams can expect “fireworks,” comparing the impact of their upcoming showdown to Kevin Durant’s first game in Oklahoma City after he joined the Golden State Warriors last season.

The Clippers traded Paul to the Rockets for Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker and a top-3 protected 2018 first-round pick. Paul had to exercise the $24.2 million player option in the final year of his deal with the Clippers for the trade to happen.

The 32-year-old Paul averaged 18.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 9.2 assists in 61 games last season for Los Angeles. Paul played six seasons for the Clippers but he failed to lead the team to the Conference Finals despite having Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as teammates. Before signing with the Clippers, Paul played six seasons for the then-New Orleans Hornets, who drafted him fourth overall in 2005.

Relationship between Chris Paul, Doc Rivers fractured?

Michael Eaves of ESPN reported that according to sources, the relationship between Paul and coach Doc Rivers soured after the team acquired Doc’s son Austin during the 2015-16 season. Paul also noticed that Doc gave preferential treatment to his son over other Clippers players in terms of playing time and spared Austin from reprimand for mistakes committed during practices and games.

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The tipping point came when Doc Rivers rejected a trade involving Austin, Jamal Crawford and Paul Pierce to the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony and Sasha Vujacic. However, Austin denied the rumors, tweeting that “these false rumors are comedy… so fictional it's actually amusing!” Doc, for his part, expressed disappointment over the departure of Paul to the Rockets, saying he has a better chance of winning with the Clippers.

Clippers welcome Milos Teodosic as Chris Paul’s replacement

With Paul now with the Rockets, the Clippers will roll next season with new acquisition Milos Teodosic, whom they signed to a two-year, $12.3 million contract. In his two-year stint with CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague, Teodosic averaged 16.1 points and 6.5 assists. Beverley can also step up as a backup playmaker for the Clippers.