Rumblings of discord in Houston have surfaced in recent days. While reports about Mike D’Antoni’s job security have popped up, Shams Charania of The Athletic brought word that James Harden and Chris Paul had a locker room disagreement about ball distribution after the Rockets were bounced by the Golden State Warriors.
It turns out this might not have been the only time that Paul and Harden butted heads during the series. During an episode of ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby, Jalen Rose gave some insight into some in-game disagreements the pair had regarding how Harden would approach the game when Paul was the one initiating the offense.
“Right after I think it was Game 2 or 3, I did a breakdown at halftime of how when Chris Paul was initiating the offense, James Harden looked disinterested,” Rose said. “I did it on this show, too. I showed how he didn’t maintain spacing, he didn’t spot up, he flat out walked. And a lot of times, he was behind the ball so that somebody could be an extra help defender.”
His co-host, David Jacoby, recalled seeing and discussing this, then Rose dove into some more details, namely how Paul responded.
“How do you think Chris Paul felt about that?” Rose asked. “‘You sabotaging me, dog. So when I’m running the offense and initiating the offense, you’re basically gonna act disinterested and pout.’
“When you get tense about something like that, it now carries to the huddle,” Rose continued. “So now you look like, ‘Dog, you gonna do me like that?’ And that becomes an exchange that we’re now talking about right now.”
Tensions are obviously heightened during the playoffs — especially during a series that carried the stakes of the Rockets-Warriors rematch — and Paul has always been the kind of player who expects a lot out of his teammates. It’s still rather interesting that this is the second report of Paul and Harden not seeing eye-to-eye during the conference semifinals considering that the two are expected to shoulder the biggest loads in the team’s pursuit of a championship in the coming years. At the very least, this is seems like it’s turning into something to monitor going forward.