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Saturday, January 25, 2020

James Harden

Chris Paul reportedly demanded a trade because of issues with James Harden

Chris Paul Rockets

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.

Report: Chris Paul and James Harden clashing over playing style, personality

James Harden

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.

Mike D’Antoni downplays tension between Harden and Paul

Mike D'Antoni

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.

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.

Chris Paul, James Harden reportedly had tense back-and-forth after Game 6 loss

Chris Paul Rockets

The Houston Rockets endured a disappointing end to their season this year, one that left their star players in a verbal back-and-forth, according to a report.

Houston feel to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs for the second year in a row. The difference is they lost a round and game earlier than last year, and they went down in Games 5 and 6 despite Golden State not having Kevin Durant.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote about the team’s status entering the offseason and noted the tension between Chris Paul and James Harden during and after the Game 6 loss.

From Charania’s article:

“But Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium.”

None of this should be surprising. Two teammates were arguing/in disagreement about sharing the ball following a season-ending loss in the playoffs against the Warriors? This probably happens in every locker room.

This wouldn’t concern me if I were Houston. The Game 6 loss hurt them as we know. The questions about how they run their offense moving forward are somewhat valid, but the Rockets don’t need to make big-sweeping changes. They seem to know that, evidenced by their plans to extend Mike D’Antoni.

H/T CBS Sports

James Harden goes down with head injury in Game 4

James Harden

James Harden is taking a beating in the Western Conference semifinals.

Harden went down in the first five minutes of Game 4 between his Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors after taking a shot to the head. He took a pass and cut to the basket for a layup attempt but had it blocked by Kevin Durant.

Durant appeared to have caught Harden’s head, knocking the Rockets star to the floor.

Durant was holding his right elbow after catching Harden in the head with it, so both players were hurt. Durant removed his elbow sleeve after that.

When the game resumed after a commercial break, Harden was on the floor, so he did not miss any time.

The reigning NBA MVP is already playing with an eye issue that was suffered in Game 2 of the series. Golden State holds a 2-1 series lead.

Report: Rockets optimistic James Harden will not have further vision issues

James Harden

James Harden’s vision issues in Game 2 appear set to be a one-off, or so the Houston Rockets hope.

According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Harden has visited with an eye doctor, and there is optimism that he will have no further vision issues after being hit in the eyes in Game 2.

This is pretty good news for Houston if the optimism isn’t misplaced. Harden had clear issues dealing with the aftermath of the eye injury in Game 2, even if he still scored 29 points. Houston probably can’t win this series if he isn’t at full strength, but the trend looks good for Game 3.

James Harden appears to be sensitive to light after eye injury

James harden

James Harden appeared to show sensitivity to light after suffering an eye injury during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals series between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

Harden missed time in the first half after being inadvertently smacked in the face by Draymond Green. He was treated for an abrasion on his eyelid.

Well after returning to the game, TNT showed Harden appearing to be sensitive to the light at Oracle Arena.

Harden also had some redness in his eyes.

During the fourth quarter, TNT cameras showed him squinting and grimacing, indicating he was still being affected by the issue.

Despite his eye issues, Harden was able to shoot well after returning to the game and rallied to return to his role as a team leader.