So, much for Daryl Morey's PR spin.
The Rockets general manager claims he has no plans to trade Chris Paul, but it appears he might not have a choice.
Paul's relationship with superstar backcourt mate James Harden has deteriorated to the point where it reportedly is "unsalvageable," and the two stars want to go their separate ways, Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reports, citing sources.
Per Goodwill, Paul asked the Rockets' management for a trade following Houston's second-round NBA playoff loss to the Warriors. In response, Harden made it clear it was either him or CP3. The two reportedly went two months without speaking during the season and Harden hasn't returned Paul's attempts to communicate.
“There’s no respect at all, on either side,” a source told Goodwill. “They need to get away from one another. Chris doesn’t respect James’ standing in the league, and James doesn’t respect the work Chris has put in to this point.”
In 2018, Paul's injured hamstring might have cost the Rockets a chance at dethroning the Warriors and winning the NBA title.
When Paul missed time with an injury early in the 2018-19 season, Harden carried the team, his usage rate spiking to unprecedented levels. But when Paul returned, the offense remained isolation dominant, with the ball in Harden's hands the majority of the time. This reportedly has bothered Paul and led to his trade demand. Sources told Goodwill that Paul would swear at head coach Mike D'Antoni about the offense stagnating when Harden was in with the second unit.
While Paul has been annoyed at the Harden-dominated offense, The Beard reportedly has been irked by Paul's injuries and personality.
Now, this scene during their second-round loss to the Warriors makes a whole lot of sense.
It all makes sense now...— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 18, 2019
However, Paul took to Instagram Tuesday afternoon to seemingly refute the report.
Chris Paul has logged on pic.twitter.com/hmk7C95Y9G— Devin Grainger (@devlightyear) June 18, 2019
The Warriors -- who are decimated by injuries following their NBA Finals loss to the Raptors -- appear to be leaving their perch atop the NBA, but the Rockets might not be able to capitalize if Harden and Paul can't kiss and makeup, which a source tells Goodwill is unlikely.
There's also the issue of CP3's contract, which Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly has "complained about ever since" it was signed, per Goodwill. The Lakers reportedly were seen as a potential trade fit, but that was before they made the blockbuster deal for Anthony Davis. So now, the market for a potential Paul trade won't be big -- if there is one at all.
With Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant injured and hitting free agency, now appears to be the Rockets' time to strike in the Western Conference. The Rockets have become obsessed with taking down the Dubs, and the Harden-Paul backcourt supposedly was the key to getting over the top.
Now, it looks like it could undo them just when the Warriors are ripe for the picking.