Chris Paul is trying to erase any doubt about his basketball future.
Speaking at his second annual “Go Hoop Day” event on Sunday, the Houston Rockets guard shot down the recent trade noise surrounding him.
“I never asked for a trade,” said Paul, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I never demanded a trade.
“I’ll be in Houston,” he went on. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good … There’s only team that wins at the end of the year, you know what I mean? Since I went to Houston, from Day 1, it’s been about winning games. It’s always about winning games.”
Paul, whose second season in Houston ended with yet another disappointing playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors, has recently been dogged by rumors that he supposedly demanded a trade because of issues with James Harden.
The nine-time All-Star, who turns 35 next year, is owed a staggering $124 million over the next three seasons, and at least one team has declined the opportunity to acquire him. Combined with Paul’s public assertions here, it seems pretty obvious that a trade won’t be happening for a number of reasons.
- Chris Paul
The New York Knicks have the cap space to acquire Chris Paul, but not the interest, according to a report.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Houston Rockets explored trading Paul to the Knicks, who could absorb his contract. That, combined with other potential moves, could have set the Rockets up for a pursuit of Jimmy Butler. The Knicks, however, were not interested.
The Knicks do want a superstar this summer, but Paul is probably not the sort they’re looking to acquire. The 34-year-old point guard has just shy of $125 million left on his contract, which runs through 2021-22.
The story comes in the midst of reports of Paul demanding to be traded, which he has denied. This is a further hint that, regardless of whether there’s a trade demand or not, the Rockets are at least looking into it and are considering retooling their backcourt around James Harden.
Chris Paul has denied that he made a trade demand to the Houston Rockets, contrary to what was reported on Tuesday.
Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill reported Tuesday that the relationship between CP3 and James Harden is “unsalvageable” and that CP3 demanded a trade. Bleacher Report posted about the report on Instagram, and the Rockets point guard responded in a comment saying “Damn! That’s news to me.”
A screenshot of the Instagram post and Paul’s comment are included in this tweet:
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) June 18, 2019
Even if the report that Paul demanded a trade is inaccurate, there have been a series of reports over the past month saying that CP3 and Harden are clashing. One report even said the Rockets have looked into trading Paul.
If they are able to find a taker — which appears to be the biggest challenge given Paul’s age and contract status (3 years/$124 million left) — the Rockets would probably give strong consideration to making a move.
- Chris Paul
Stories about the relationship between Chris Paul and James Harden souring have been percolating the last month or so, and now it seems to have hit its peak.
Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill reported on Tuesday that Paul demanded a trade from the Houston Rockets over his issues with Harden, while Harden told Houston to pick between them following the team’s loss to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. This report is not surprising given that the two players reportedly had a blowout in the locker room after the Game 6 loss to Golden State in May. On top of that, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported on Monday that Paul and Harden have clashed over their personalities and playing styles.
Goodwill’s reporting takes everything a step further. He says the two players went nearly two months without speaking during the season. He adds that Harden has not responded to Paul’s messages to reach out over the offseason.
Paul is said to be upset with Harden’s ball-dominant playing style, while Harden is annoyed with CP3’s injuries and personality.
The Rockets would seemingly be extraordinarily unlikely to consider trading Harden, the 2017-2018 NBA MVP. They would probably be motivated to move Paul, but his contract would be a major hurdle in trading him. He is 34 years old, has a history of chronic hamstring injuries, and is owed $124 million over the next three years. The Rockets reportedly have had some preliminary talks about trading Paul.
Contrary to the news report, Paul posted on Instagram to deny making the demand.
The Houston Rockets have at least looked into the possibility of trading Chris Paul, according to a report.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Monday that the Rockets have had preliminary conversations about dealing Paul. Those talks have centered around teams who would have the cap space to take on Paul’s hefty salary, with the Rockets still owing the point guard roughly $125 million over the next three years.
There is no indication over just how likely or realistic a Paul deal would be, though Houston’s public stance has been that Paul isn’t a trade candidate.
The news comes on the heels of reports that Paul and teammate James Harden clashed frequently this season. This may be a factor in talks, but more realistically, Paul is a 34-year-old on a big contract who isn’t even the team’s lead option. It may simply be a case of the Rockets believing they can make better use of that cap space if they could just unload his deal.
The Houston Rockets have some interesting decisions to make this offseason with their two biggest stars reportedly butting heads. While the tension between James Harden and Chris Paul may not impact the team’s championships aspirations, it is apparently very real.
After the Rockets were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, Harden and Paul had a tense exchange in the locker room that centered on ball distribution — or lack thereof — during Game 6. Sources told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that Paul felt Harden had dominated the ball too much and believed running more set plays would have been effective as the Warriors were mounting a fourth-quarter comeback.
MacMahon notes that the “prevailing belief” is the tension between Harden and Paul is typical for NBA superstars who are teammates and that it can be managed. However, Harden and Paul have been clashing both because of playing style and personality.
“Chris wants to coach James,” a source told MacMahon. “James looks at him like, ‘You can’t even beat your man. Just shut up and watch me.'”
Paul is also said to be frustrated with Harden’s lack of commitment to spacing and moving when he does not have the ball. The report went on to state that CP3 “cherishes” the opportunity to be on the floor without Harden. Here’s more:
It has reached a point, team sources say, where Paul cherishes the chance to play without Harden on the floor. On several occasions, according to team sources, Paul barked at D’Antoni to keep Harden on the bench while he was running the second unit. Harden simultaneously would lobby — or demand — to check back into the game.
Again, a lot of this is normal — especially after a tough postseason exit. The Rockets aren’t going to trade Harden, and Paul is a 34-year-old player on the downside of his career who is owed $124 million over the next three years. Houston is probably better off just keeping him if they want to contend again next season.
If you believe what Mike D’Antoni said about the supposed issues between Harden and Paul, there is nothing to worry about. Winning cures all, and the Western Conference suddenly looks more open than it has in years with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson potentially missing the entire 2019-20 season. This could be Houston’s best chance to make an NBA Finals run, and Paul and Harden likely realize that.
Amid rumors of discord between his two star players, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said that tension between guards Chris Paul and James Harden is nothing to worry about.
D’Antoni said that it’s “normal” for the teammates to go back-and-forth about the correct style, and added that the whole thing isn’t much of a story.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni also addressed the @TheAthletic report about tense talks between himself, Chris Paul and James Harden regarding style of play. https://t.co/T6IHQneHbZ pic.twitter.com/kPJF0H66ND
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 25, 2019
This comes on the heels of a report that Harden and Paul had a tense disagreement after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors.
D’Antoni is doing what he should be doing here, which is trying to turn a negative report into nothing. All is not perfect in Houston, but it was not as if the Rockets performed badly this season, so it seems manageable for now.