Rockets star James Harden made his first public comments on a reported rift with former teammate Chris Paul, relays Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. After Houston was knocked out of the playoffs, stories emerged that Harden and Paul had a toxic relationship and could no longer exist in the same environment. Harden admits on-court arguments with Paul, who was traded to Oklahoma City last week, but insists the reports were exaggerated.
“It was just pretty funny how guys can speculate or make up false stories on the TV and then you’ve got people believing it,” he said. “That’s where guys have to make sure their facts are true before they put stuff in the media or on national television. But for me personally, and I’m sure for Chris as well, we never paid any attention to it. And Chris has been unbelievable these last two years. He’s helped me as a leader, as a mentor, just all that good stuff. I guess it’s life. It’s the business, how things don’t work out. But he’s a great dude. I have nothing negative to say about him.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Harden told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he has no concerns about meshing his talents with Russell Westbrook‘s, citing their previous experience playing together in Oklahoma City and with the 2012 Olympic team. “When you have talent like that, it works itself out,” Harden said. “You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. You figure things out. Throughout the course of the season, you figure things out. That’s just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.”
- Pelicans small forward Kenrich Williams received a $200K guarantee on his contract for 2019/20 by remaining on the roster yesterday, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. Williams’ $1,416,852 salary will become fully guaranteed on opening night.
- Mavericks guard J.J. Barea has decided not to play for Puerto Rico in the FIBA World Cup tournament, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. It has been less than eight months since Barea had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, and although he is encouraged by his progress, he believes it’s too soon to risk playing competitively.