Last week, rumors suggested that Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul had requested a trade after his supposedly tense relationship with backcourt partner James Harden had reached a breaking point. This added to prior reports claiming that the Rockets were placing all of their players — with the likely exception of Harden — on the trading block in the aftermath of a disappointing 2018-19 season. This past weekend, however, Paul doubled down on his denial of the trade rumors, telling the Houston Chronicle that he has no problem remaining a Rocket going forward.
In a report published Sunday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle quoted Paul, who said at one of his Go Hoop Day events in Los Angeles that he had “never asked for a trade,” contrary to what last week’s reports had suggested. Per Feigen, the 34-year-old point guard “did not seem angry” about the rumors, but he wanted to make it clear that he’s okay with remaining with the Rockets despite what was reported about him.
“I’ll be in Houston,” Paul was quoted as saying. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good.”
As further noted by the Houston Chronicle, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey also went on the record last week, as he also denied the rumors regarding Paul’s trade request and the nine-time All-Star’s alleged feud with Harden.
The aforementioned rumors were first reported on Tuesday by Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, who wrote that, per league sources, James Harden and Chris Paul’s relationship as teammates had become “unsalvageable.” The report went on to add that Paul spoke to Rockets management to demand a trade, while Harden, for his part, allegedly gave Houston officials a “him or me” ultimatum after the team lost to the Golden State Warriors in this year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
“The backcourt mates went nearly two months without speaking to each other during the season, sources said, creating a tenuous environment for teammates and everyone involved with the franchise,” Goodwill added.
One day after Yahoo Sports reported on the turmoil within the Houston Rockets’ organization, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on First Take that he had personally spoken to Paul, who “categorically denied” asking for any kind of trade. Per Bleacher Report, Smith added that the veteran point guard also denied rumors that he was not on speaking terms with Harden.
Should Paul remain with the Rockets in the 2019-20 season, there’s a possibility that Houston could have a better chance at dominating the Western Conference, what with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors both expected to miss significant time with injuries, Bleacher Report predicted. And while rumors continue to go back-and-forth regarding Paul and Harden’s relationship as the team’s starting guards, the publication added that Houston is also hoping to make some roster improvements during the 2019 offseason, with Philadelphia 76ers wingman Jimmy Butler reportedly on their “wish list.”