James Harden and Chris Paul clearly did not get along well last season with the Houston Rockets, and the issues may have come to a boil after they lost their playoff series to the Golden State Warriors this year. Numerous reports claimed the two superstars had an argument in the locker room after the Rockets were eliminated, but the bickering apparently started on the court.
In a recent episode of his “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed some of what it was that Harden and Paul said to one another during that Golden State series. One exchange had to do with what Windhorst described as a “schematic thing” and an issue with spacing, and Harden wanted none of Paul shouting orders at him.
“Chris barked at James, and James turned to him — this was described to me by a player who was on the court — and he said, ‘With you it’s always f—ing something,'” Windhorst revealed.
As Windhorst noted, both Harden and Paul have had issues with teammates in the past. Still, that particular comment sure seems to indicate Harden had grown tired of playing with CP3, and that is likely why he helped nudge the Rockets in the direction of acquiring Russell Westbrook.
We’ve already heard of several reasons why Harden and Paul clashed, and it’s clear the issues were real even if the Rockets tried to downplay them. We highly doubt the two All-Stars will miss one another.
In a summer where superstars across the NBA are calling the shots more than ever before, it looks like that may have been the case once again with the blockbuster trade that saw Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul swap teams.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Westbrook and James Harden began discussing the idea of playing together again as soon as Paul George decided he wanted out of Oklahoma City. Amick says those discussions are what provided the “spark” for the trade between the Thunder and Houston Rockets. The Rockets were also reportedly Westbrook’s No. 1 option when it became clear he was likely to be traded.
Westbrook and Harden were both part of the 2012 Thunder team that lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Harden was traded to Houston not long after that, but he apparently never had any significant issues with Westbrook.
Kawhi Leonard appears to have mapped out his own offseason perfectly, even pulling off a few diabolical moves along the way. However, he is not the only one who influenced the big moves across the NBA this summer. LeBron James clearly had a hand in the trade that brought Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Westbrook and Harden may have helped nudge the Rockets and Thunder in a direction that suited them. Time will tell if it all works out.
The Houston Rockets made a major trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook on Thursday, and it sounds like they did so because their star player wanted it.
Shortly after the trade was reported on Thursday, two reporters said that James Harden wanted to play with Westbrook.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said Harden was a driving force in the deal.
James Harden was a driving force in this deal, I’m told. Russell Westbrook and Harden decides they wanted to reunite and Rockets made it happen despite some questions about fit now that Harden is so ball dominant. Houston believes ceiling is higher with Russ than CP3.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 12, 2019
Reporting on NBATV during a Summer League game, Allie LaForce reported that she spoke with someone in Houston’s organization who said Harden is “excited” to play with Russell Westbrook but sad to see Chris Paul go. LaForce says she was told Harden made it very clear that he wanted the trade so he could reunite with Westbrook.
Westbrook and Harden were drafted a year apart by the Thunder and played together for three seasons before Harden was dealt to Houston. Now seven years later they will have a chance to play together again.
There are several questions about how they will fit together considering they are both so ball-dominant and the Rockets’ offense is dependent on 3-point shooting around Harden, which is not Westbrook’s strength. Westbrook will have to fall into a role of not having the ball as much while playing alongside Harden, which should boost his efficiency.
There have been numerous reports since the Houston Rockets were eliminated from the postseason that their two biggest stars, James Harden and Chris Paul, are at odds and no longer want to play together. According to the team’s most respected veteran, that is a bunch of nonsense.
In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic this week, Rockets forward PJ Tucker said talk of a rift between Harden and Paul is “fake news.” He admitted there was arguing after the Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, but he said that happens all the time and no more between Harden and CP3 than other teammates.
“No, but I’m sick of the fake news man. It’s fake,” Tucker said. “Everybody – I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue.
“It was what it was. Everybody’s mad. Everybody’s pissed. You can’t – I’m sick of all the highlight of whoever this person is trying to come up with all this crap, like I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue with each other. Like, I’m the center, focal (point) of the argument because I’m always yelling at somebody and they’re yelling at me. So for me, it’s like ‘If you’re not arguing…’ You don’t think Kobe and Shaq argued? Hakeem (Olajuwon) and…”
Amick pointed out that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal got to the point where they could no longer co-exist, which is why Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat. Tucker would be fine with that as long as a championship comes first.
“If we win a championship together and we f—ing hate each other, then guess what? Who cares? (Laughs) Nobody. Right, so that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Winning a championship. Everything else is failure.”
It’s hard to read anything into an argument after a playoff elimination loss, so those reports may have been overblown. The Western Conference is now wide open with the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and Harden and Paul are both searching for their first championship ring. If you believe what CP3 said recently, the issues do not seem nearly as bad as some people think.
James Harden had a disappointing night at the NBA Awards show when he did not take home MVP honors, and that was hardly the biggest insult he faced throughout the evening.
Harden made it obvious he was not going to win his second straight MVP Award when he did not show up for the event. In making that choice, he also gave the presenter of the award, comedian Hasan Minhaj, some easy material to roast the Houston Rockets star. Minhaj listed off several great players who were in attendance before noting that Harden did not show up “in classic playoff fashion.”
Hasan Minhaj ethers James Harden pic.twitter.com/MKtsHTH0Na
— Paid man gets bored (@cjzero) June 25, 2019
For what it’s worth, MVP Award winner Giannis Antetokounmpo also struggled in the playoffs, and that’s one of the main reasons his Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Still, Harden kind of set himself up for that one by no-showing.
The Rockets made it clear that they totally disagree with Giannis winning MVP, but finishing in second may have been the least hurtful thing that happened to Harden.
The Houston Rockets respectfully disagreed with Giannis Antetokounmpo winning the NBA’s MVP Award.
Antetokounmpo on Monday was named the league’s MVP for the first time in his career, an honor that was well deserved. He led the Milwaukee Bucks to 60 wins — the most in the NBA last season. Antetokounmpo also averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game to completely stuff the stat sheet.
James Harden also had an MVP-worthy campaign, and the Rockets stated his case on Twitter following the announcement of the award.
Congrats to the new MVP, but we respectfully disagree.
Finished Top 2 in MVP voting 4 out of the last 5 seasons
1st player in NBA history to avg at least 35.0ppg & 7.0apg in a single season
Scored 40+ pts 28 times this season, 50+ 9 times & 60+ twice pic.twitter.com/UMmHARlNxg
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) June 25, 2019
32 consecutive games scoring at least 30pts, 2nd-longest in league history.
Over a span of 40 games played Harden avg 40.1 ppg, 7.1 apg, 7.0 rpg and 2.2 spg. That was the 2nd-longest span of averaging 40+ pts in NBA history!
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) June 25, 2019
Surpassed his career high for 3-pointers made in his 53rd game of the season finishing with 378, 2nd-highest single season total in NBA history.
Dating back to 2014-15, Harden is avg 30.4 pts, 8.4 ast, 6.4 reb, and 1.8 steals.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) June 25, 2019
In many other years, Harden, who was looking to become a back-to-back MVP winner, would have likely walked away with the award. Unfortunately for him, he had an amazing season at the same time as Antetokounmpo.
While it may be a consolation, if there’s one thing Harden knows, it’s that the organization has his back.
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.