There is conflicting information regarding the future of future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul with the Houston Rockets.
According to a report from Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, the relationship between Paul and Rockets All-Star guard James Harden is “unsalvageable,” and Paul wants out of Houston as a result. Goodwill reports that Paul has already demanded a trade, and Harden also made it clear to the front office that the two can’t coexist.
The delicate relationship between Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Chris Paul has been termed “unsalvageable” and the star players want a divorce, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Paul went to Rockets management and demanded a trade, and Harden issued a “him or me” edict following the Rockets’ second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors, sources said.
The backcourt mates went nearly two months without speaking to each other during the season, sources said, creating a tenuous environment for teammates and everyone involved with the franchise.
Harden hasn’t returned Paul’s repeated attempts at communicating this offseason, sources said, after a year in which the pair repeatedly got under each other’s skin with petty acts in practices and games.
“There’s no respect at all, on either side,” a source told Yahoo Sports. “They need to get away from one another. Chris doesn’t respect James’ standing in the league, and James doesn’t respect the work Chris has put in to this point.”
For what it’s worth, Chris Paul commented on a Bleacher Report Instagram post about the report, saying, “Damn! That’s news to me.”
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has also vehemently stated that Paul has not made a trade request, and that he will play for Houston next season.
Earlier this week, Morey denied any legitimate friction between Paul and Harden, the team’s two best players.
“We have two high-level competitors, Chris and James, who their only goal in life at this point is to win the title. They’ve accomplished everything else, they are both going to be first-ballot Hall of Famers. Two competitive superstars at that level, there’s going to be times when they are extremely competitive, extremely focused on how do we get to that next level, and when we don’t there’s going to be frustration,” Morey said, via ESPN. “I’m frustrated, our top players are frustrated, Mike D’Antoni is frustrated. We want to take the last step and be the champion and I think it’s good that there is tension in the sense that we all want to win.”
Morey went as far as to say that the Rockets feel as though they could be the top team in the West next season, and he plans to have the team’s entire starting five back.
“We feel like we should be the favorite in the West, and we’re going to do moves to show people that we should be the favorite in the West, and that’s going to create a little tension when we do that,” Morey said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to have at least our starting five back, which again most teams are scrambling to keep it together and we’re going to spend midlevel, we’re going to spend into the tax. We’re going to be one of the most expensive rosters like we were last year and this year and we’re going to be right there.”
Despite Morey’s claims, the Rockets have already had internal discussion about potentially moving Paul — along with starting center Clint Capela — according to a recent . Paul has three years remaining on the a four-year, $160 million deal that he signed with the Rockets last summer.
The friction comes at an unfortunate time for the Rockets, as the West appears wide open next season following the injuries suffered by Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson during the NBA Finals. If they were all on the same page, the Rockets could potentially make a Finals run in 2020, as Morey suggested, but that does not appear to be the case. Instead, it appears as though the two players who were expected to lead Houston back to glory may end up being the two that tear the team down.