Harden, Paul Relationship Described As “Unsalvageable”

4:54pm: Responding to today’s report, Morey said Paul and his reps haven’t asked for a trade, adding that the point guard will be on the Rockets next season, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). According to Morey, Paul and Harden don’t have issues with one another —  Morey says he has spoken to both players often this offseason about free agency plans, Feigen adds.

While Morey’s dismissal was expected, reports of a rift between the Rockets’ two stars are becoming increasingly frequent. We’ll have to wait and see if the team is actually willing to bring both players back in the fall.

3:46pm: The relationship between Rockets guards James Harden and Chris Paul has been described by sources as “unsalvageable,” according to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, who reports that the two stars no longer want to play alongside one another.

Sources tell Goodwill that Paul asked Rockets management for a trade, while Harden issued a “him or me” ultimatum after the team was eliminated from the playoffs this spring by Golden State.

The two players didn’t speak to one another for nearly two months during the season, according to Goodwill, who adds that Harden has rebuffed CP3’s repeated attempts to communicate so far this offseason.

“There’s no respect at all, on either side,” a source tells Goodwill. “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.”

Goodwill’s story comes on the heels of a similar report from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, who suggested that the disconnect between Harden and Paul stemmed from their different preferred playing styles and personalities. Harden thrives in an isolation-heavy attack, while Paul prefers a style predicated on more ball movement.

Sources tell Goodwill that Paul would curse at head coach Mike D’Antoni, complaining about the offense bogging down when Harden replaced Paul in the second unit. MacMahon passed along similar anecdotes in his story, reporting that Paul would cherish the opportunity to play in that second unit without Harden and “barked” at D’Antoni to keep Harden on the bench as the NBA’s leading scorer lobbied to check back in.

MacMahon and Goodwill each provided details on the personality clash between the two All-Stars as well, with Goodwill indicating that Paul’s “grating personality” has irritated Harden. The former MVP snapped back at CP3 after the Rockets’ elimination last month, telling Paul that he didn’t always know best and talked too much, according to MacMahon.

“Chris has a personality where he just doesn’t let anything go,” a team source told MacMahon. “He just keeps pestering and pestering and pestering and pestering. Sometimes James has had enough — and not just him. That’s what makes [Paul] a winner and also what keeps him from being a big-time winner. He’s got to temper that.”

MacMahon’s and Goodwill’s reports add more context to why the Rockets have apparently been exploring the trade market for Paul and other key players this spring. However, Paul has one of the league’s least team-friendly contracts, which will make him difficult to trade — that deal will pay the veteran point guard $38.5MM in 2019/20, and $124MM in total over the next three years.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has “grumbled” about the team’s investment in Paul and expressed regret to staffers about that signing, according to MacMahon, who adds that Fertitta has even griped about the deal in front of rival executives. Goodwill’s report lines up with MacMahon’s — sources tell Yahoo that Fertitta has complained about CP3’s contract since it was signed.

For what it’s worth, Rockets GM Daryl Morey has downplayed the tension within the organization and recently denied that Paul had asked to be traded. However, the situation in Houston looks increasingly untenable. We’ll see how the Rockets’ front office and players respond to the latest reports, but at this point it looks like a roster shake-up may be on the horizon.

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88 thoughts on “Harden, Paul Relationship Described As “Unsalvageable”

    • stretch123

      Gives Houston a replacement for CP3, JJ can fill the Tucker role, Waiters can be additional scoring off the bench. CP3 and Tucker, in addition to Winslow, Richardson, Bam, Olynyk and whoever is drafted at 13 a mid tier playoff team for next year.

      • alonsoball

        Sound interesting, but do the Heat do that? They would be stuck with CP3’s contract for 3 years, with no other stars likely to come…Although their current situation isn’t much better, they have a lot of awful contracts. For the Rockets it’s a great trade, and one of their only options out there.

        • Curtisrowe

          Why would the Heat possibly want Paul’s contract? No one does. And it’s going to get worse.

          • stretch123

            Based on what’s out there, there’s no star player that will come to the Heat within the next two offseasons after this one, at least in my estimation… Winslow, Bam, and Richardson are the future of this team and hopefully the player they draft at 13, and a veteran PG like Paul would bring the best out of those guys with his playmaking abilities. Even if Paul plays the way he did last year for two more seasons, I think it would be positive for Miami… then by the time his contract is up in 3 years, Miami the rest of their core will have grown and Miami could target a star or two at that point (2022).

        • stretch123

          CP3 is the best we will be able to do in terms of Star power. I could see him as an asset around Bam, Richardson, and Winslow (and if I get my way, Romeo Langford/Kevin Porter). Dragic was good but Paul is a true play making point guard and his team based offensive style would fit in nicely with Miami. Plus he wouldn’t be allowed to get out of hand because of the culture in Miami.

      • KnicksFanCavsFan

        The Heat are lamenting over their own bad contracts that have crippled them the last couple of years. Why would Riley want to take over a 3/$120 contract for a good player but with diminishing skills who’s injury prone? especially since the Heat are not built to compete for a title yet? you would almost certainly have take back Whiteside’s or Ryan Anderson’s contract and that doesn’t help the Heat at all.

    • specialfriedrice

      Would love to see that trade, Miami would be back in the playoffs and Houston…would be good comedy to watch at least.

  1. Codeeg

    I love the rockets but Paul probably is pissed about how all the accolades is taking away from the team, and how he’s been a good player not great since his injury.

  2. C-Daddy

    Paul’s contract is pretty untradeable unless the Rockets eat a ton of salary or attach draft picks.

  3. nentwigs

    In practice, put Paul out there all by himself opposing a team of 5 and see how he is able to perform ALONE.
    Then do the same with Harden = him alone against a team of 5. Perhaps that experience will drive home the reality of individual performance in TEAM sports.

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      You miss the point. That’s exactly what Paul is demanding. A system where the ball is moved around and more players involved. He feels Harden’s ISO based offense hurts the team, especially in the playoffs.

      To his credit, LBJ and Kyrie complemented each others game as they often deferred to each other. Kyrie would pick out a 10 minute stretch where he danced on fools and did his thing at a high 47%+ clip and then involved himself in the offense scheme with LBJ running it. Kyrie is my guy but his ego got the best of him which led to the trade demand.

  4. This is the problem with players putting teams together. These two conspired to get on the same team, and forced it down the team’s throat. Then forced Melo on them. Harden at least got on the State Farm commercials.

    • x%sure

      It all started with Harden denying he made that that mess in Paul’s kitchen. ;)
      Paul did look happier with Deandre Jordan but then again, his go-to face is a deep frown.

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      How does one “force” a team owner to sign a FA? And didn’t they pick up Carmelo for almost nothing? Despite the whole discussion let’s not forget that this team would likely be in the Finals if not for the GSW dynasty and bad luck with health in the playoffs. The cost of trying to maintain competitiveness in the NBA is committing to vet players integral to success. Seldom do you see teams with multiple years of post- season engagement with flexible cap space. it’s like you spend and spend to get better and only until the run is over do you try to get from under bad contracts. they have at least a year or two window of opportunity until they start to look reallllly hard as to how committed they are to Harden. is he going to be a lifer or will the new owner decide to put his very own imprint on the franchise with all new era players? every franchise goes that had long runs go thru that. Ainge is trying to avoid that but it’s a struggle. you need star power to win in the NBA. Look at how Kawhi was able to turn a good team to a nba champ.

      • x%sure

        How do you force an owner to sign a FA? You answered that later on: “you need star power to win in the NBA.” They can win a reasonable demand from the FO. A year after the Paul trade, Harden extended.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          that’s not “forcing” the owner to do it. that’s the team understanding that they want to win. “forcing” implied doing something not in one’s best interest and against their will. that’s like saying the “Hampton 5” forced mgmt to sign KS3 years ago.

  5. Frist blake Griffin now harden. Paul might be cancer? I loved watching him play in NO and LA…. jis best fit would be with lakers but idk how they can afford him.

  6. buzz_meeks

    i have no skin in the game, as i’m not a rockets fan; the whole “james doesn’t respect the work cp3 puts in” seems like BS.. there are reasons to criticize paul, but i’m. it sure i’ve ever heard he’s not a hard worker..

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      you read it wrong. i think it means that Harden doesn’t appreciate the hard work Paul has put in (to be a future HOF PG).

  7. hoosierhysteria

    New rockets owner will have to eat cp3 salary to move him. That was a stupid contract…morey not so smart. Chris Paul creates conflict every where he goes. Fakers are gullible.

  8. Bryzzo2016

    No surprise. No one wants to play with the iso playing, volume shooting, ballhog that doesn’t even pretend to play D. The problem is, CP3’s contract is untradeable, no one wants that for an aging PG. What a mess in Houston

  9. x%sure

    I assumed it was bad enough that Paul would have asked for a trade at some point, after trying to fit into the Harden-designed structure, and Morey lied yesterday about it.
    But yikes about the details.

    Paul is tradable, there are plenty of ungainly contracts around the NBA to trade for. @stretch mentioned Miami.
    Wolves could use a PG while the Rockets could use a 3. Wiggins & Saric is a salary match.

    • hiflew

      I would think Teague would have to be a part of that deal for both teams. Houston would need a PG and Minny wouldn’t need 2.

      • hiflew

        Paul & Tucker for Wiggins & Teague would work financially.

        Although I don’t know how well Wiggins and Harden would work together.

        • x%sure

          From Wiggins’ end, I doubt he would care. Harden might but compared to this stuff with stubborn chirping Paul, he could live with it.
          Ha, he would find some way to move Wiggins around like he moves the defense.

          Houston would still have Gordoon & Rivers for the 1.

          Given Paul/Wiggins, Rockets would have to sell it to Wolves, not the reverse. I think Wiggins is more valuable over 4 years at this point.

    • Bryzzo2016

      The Lakers will be the Dubs biggest obstacle ESPECIALLY if they add a 3rd star AND depending on Klay’s knee and Durant.

      • Strike Four

        The Warriors weren’t dominant this year because their secondary was so bad. The Lakers current secondary? Also really bad. Them adding another star won’t mean much unless all 3 stay 100% healthy, which is never happening. The media is so quick to want the Lakers to be good, but AD is not the guy they should have went after and anyone who knows anything can see this. This is hilarious to the Warriors FO right now. There is absolutely no way KD leaves.

        • Casor_Greener

          Warriors proved to be bums without Durant versus a real team. I laugh at clowns who down play Lebron. 8 straight finals. I do agree that Durant will stay, but if he is smart he will sit out a year,

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          ok so GSW had a sucky bench but are now without KD and Klay and if they intend to offer maxes to both guys then they’ll be sooooo far over the lux tax that they won’t be able to make any improvements. Even if they let all their expiring contracts walk (aside from Klay and KD) they’ll still be over the tax limit with open roster spots to fill. So unless i missed your sarcasm or troll-ability, how do you see the GSW being anything more than a bottom seed in the playoffs at best?

    • C-Daddy

      You’re the same guy that predicted Warriors in 4 in the Finals so I’m not sure how seriously we should take your comments.

  10. jjd002

    Is this the same writer that tweeted something about hoping Harden breaks a bone?

  11. Heat: dragic+waiters
    Suns: t.johnsons+Warren
    Minnie: teague+ wiggins or dirmi
    Boston: hayward

    Not a lot more than this

    • Curtisrowe

      But even Hayward only has 2 more years. No one is going to want to trade for Paul and his salary with 3 years left.

    • Jason Lancaster

      You forgot Utah and Indiana, both of whom need a PG, both of whom are small markets that struggle to bring in impact free agents.

      I don’t understand why people think CP3 is undtradeable. There are half a dozen teams that would plug him in easy…they just don’t have a lot of value to send back.

  12. H.Henderson

    I think the Rockets should be contemplating trading Harden over Paul. Main reason being, Harden is easier to trade and will net assets. Trading Paul would only accomplish trading Paul and acquiring bad contracts.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Agreed. It’s not as if Houston is a lottery team with CP3, Eric Gordon, Capela, Tucker, and whoever they get back.

      Harden’s got 4 years left on his deal. Every team in the NBA would get stupid to have him on the roster, including Denver and Boston, who both have a lot of great young players + picks to give.

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      But does he have the minerals to sell his fanbase that 1 year into his ownership he’s trading the face of the franchise, in his prime, for a rebuild with draft picks and non- established young NBA players? Too risky if it fails.

      • KnicksFanCavsFan

        Think about it. He trades his best player in his prime and keeps the veteran who’s contract he hates but offered it because of a promise made by the previous owner? No sensible owner would choose that. He would be crucified unless he was getting back a top 8 nba star that would keep them at WCF contenders. Even then the PR hit sounds too hard too costly to the franchise and fanbase.

  13. goldenmisfit

    Chris Paul could have went to Los Angeles to team up with his buddy LeBron James and now Anthony Davis but, he decided to stay in Houston to get the max contract of five years and over 200 million. How is that decision looking now? Money isn’t everything.

    • Reflect

      I mean if he really wanted to do that he could just ask for a buyout and go now. He’d then be in the same position you’re describing, except with less money and no other choice.

      At least this way he has a choice.

  14. Strike Four

    “Rockets Plan To Keep Spending, Add Another Top Player
    June 17th, 2019 at 1:15pm CST by Dana Gauruder

    The Rockets are planning to keep their starting five intact and will attempt to “add a third star or a top mid-level player to our core,” GM Daryl Morey said in an ESPN Radio interview on Monday.”

    Literally 24 hours ago on this site HAHAHAHA

    • x%sure

      I suspect a couple of sportswriters had that same reaction yesterday and decided now was the time to spill the beans.

      Not sure of the timelines or what came first, but somehow these stories are related. Sometimes reporters will warn an involved party about an upcoming disruptive article and the subject will take preemptive measures, but that by Morey would be a pretty clumsy measure if that’s the case.

  15. jessethegreat

    I see a deal for Wiggins in their future. About the closest salary match and Wiggins is still a player with upside. If Teague gets thrown in or not I don’t know.

    KAT didn’t bring out the best in Wiggins, but Harden might be able to get.

    • jessethegreat

      Going further, if it’s really him or me, no chance in hell rockets would pick CP3 over Harden (rightfully so) but it’s not as if CP3 is without value to someone.

      Also makes you wonder why the hell Thunder let Harden go. Westbrook, Harden and Durant would be the best “big 3” in the game today.

        • Westbrook and Harden both need to dominate the ball and the only way Durant could finally win a championship was to join a team that was already stacked with stars who do not need to dominate the ball.

  16. Reflect

    A pass-first point guard and a ball-centric iso player don’t get along? Whatttttttttt.

    My only shock is that it took this long. I guess because Chris Paul has been injured half the time. I think Chris Paul has always been overrated anyway, but he needs to be in a completely different system than this.

  17. formerlyz

    I’m 100000% behind Chris Paul, as I’ve said for 2 years. The things I was saying about Harden are being echoed in these reports since they were eliminated. Chris Paul is not a glorified Patrick Beverly and shouldn’t be watching Harden dribble from the corner. Chris Paul is still their best player, and can make Harden better IMO, and they’ll only go as far as Harden lets him take them

      • Jason Lancaster

        In the ways of passing and defense, yes he is.

        But Harden’s offense more than compensates for his mediocre defense and above average (but not as good as Paul) passing ability.

        • formerlyz

          Harden is a gimmick. If he were officiated the way everyone else is, or how he is in the playoffs, his numbers wouldnt look so efficient

    • Then i would flip cp3 and a 11th pick to the knicks for frank N and the 3rd pick. Knicks get their fading star….
      Knicks sign butler and cousins. Gives them a starting 5 of cp3 butler knox cousins mitchell
      Bench djs trier 11th pick and co.
      Minny gets to wipe the slate restart around towns barett combo with a couple of more 1st rd picks .

  18. D’Antoni is an absurdly overrated coach. He completely lacks any ability to make adjustments and his offense has always revolved around just giving the ball to the team’s star player and running him into the ground.

  19. The Rockets cannot win a title playing Harden ball. Inevitably they will ignore that and cast Paul aside, however.

    • specialfriedrice

      So true and it looks to be happening already…

      So many comments in here basically saying CP3 is over the hill…no one in the league right now would be able to be Robin to Hardens Batman without taking a big hit to their own numbers…that usage by Harden…and the turnovers…that is not a team, and Basketball is a team game.

  20. CP3 is definitely tradable. Some diminution in his game, but not nearly as much as the top line numbers might indicate. Metrics and optics suggest he’s still an elite player. Outside of that system and back at PG, he might show it.

    Of course, they’ll have to take back an undesirable contract or two, but they’re not going to trade him for garbage only or to rid themselves of draft picks only. Harden is in his prime, they need contributors in a trade.

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