Despite general manager Daryl Morey’s insistence that the Houston Rockets have no plans to trade Chris Paul, a new report indicates that they may not have a choice. According to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Houston’s Hall of Fame point guard wants out, with a major qualm being his testy relationship with backcourt mate James Harden.
Goodwill reports that the tension between the two — which Morey has claimed is a natural thing between teammates of their caliber — is so bad that the pair went two months without communicating with one another. In fact, the report indicates that Paul has attempted to repair their relationship, but Harden has left him in the dark.
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.
It’s the latest in what has been an offseason of drama in Houston on the heels of their second round defeat to the Golden State Warriors, the second year in a row in which the Dubs have bounced the Rockets from the postseason. There were multiple reports of Harden and Paul butting heads during that series, and in recent days, a report indicated that Paul enjoyed the minutes he got to play with his MVP-caliber teammate on the bench.
Beyond this, there has been plenty of drama regarding head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is a lame duck due to his expiring contract at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, and the team’s efforts to make the roster better by putting anyone on the table in trade talks. The two exceptions have reportedly been Harden and Paul, but if the veteran point guard has his way, it sounds like Houston’s plan to keep the pair together may fall apart, even if finding a deal for him is rather difficult.
UPDATE: Chris Paul has denied the report on Instagram, while Rockets GM Daryl Morey has also issued a categorical denial of the report. It must be noted there is plenty of reason to deny this, but for now, the public stance is that this report is untrue.