James Harden and the Houston Rockets have denied that behind-the-scenes tensions led to Chris Paul being shipped away in the offseason, but a new report claims that Harden personally asked the team to get rid of the All-Star point guard.
As the Rockets wound down the 2018-19 season and failed playoff run, there were rumors that the tensions between Harden and Paul were reaching a breaking point and that one of them would have to be gone the next season. Despite nearly everyone involved denying that any such thing took place, a new report from Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated claimed that Harden pressed the matter directly to coach Mike D’Antoni.
Speaking on The Lowe Post podcast, Spears recounted a story he had heard about Harden approaching D’Antoni during the team’s final playoff game to demand Paul be gone the next year.
While Spears made sure to point out that it was just a rumor, the report seemed to jive with the series of reports leading up to Paul’s trade last summer.
“The one thing that I heard, which I will say this, because I have to preface it, that I have to see to believe, but from one rumor – I’ve got to put exclamation point before I say it, right? I don’t know this is fact,” Spears said.
“But I was told that James ran up to Coach D’Antoni and put his hand over his mic – because D’Antoni was mic’d – and told him, ‘We’ve got to get Chris out of here.'”
There were other reports at the time that Harden was issuing the team an ultimatum to get rid of Paul, though none claimed that he made the demand during a game.
Paul apparently still harbors some ill feelings about the surprise trade sending him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook. As The Inquisitr noted, Paul admitted that he felt “stabbed in the back” after learning about the trade.
“Absolutely. This last situation was one of them,” Paul said, as quoted by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports.
Paul took aim at Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, saying that while he admits the franchise doesn’t own him anything, he didn’t appreciate how the team wasn’t straight with him about his future.
“He may tell me one thing but do another thing,” Paul said. “But you just understand that that’s what it is.”
Paul didn’t mention any tensions with Harden, however.