Chris Paul and James Harden relationship strain hot topic in the news

OKC Thunder newest member Chris Paul and former teammate James Harden, (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder newest member Chris Paul and former teammate James Harden, (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As NBA free agency slows to a crawl the relationship between new and former OKC Thunder guards Chris Paul and James Harden is in the news.

It’s hard to know when to take something at face value and when certain assumptions are missing the mark. Such is the case surrounding the relationship between the newly acquired Chris Paul and former OKC Thunder star James Harden.

There is ample video evidence to point to as the Rockets backcourt argued on the court and on the bench. But, is this just the typically competitive nature of players in the heat of battle as they attempt to win games?

With the trade which saw OKC Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook head to Houston in return for another impressive haul of draft picks, swaps, and Chris Paul additional fuel was poured on the burning narrative there were issues between the pair.

Subsequently, Paul’s former teammates have jumped on the bandwagon calling out Paul as a bad teammate with an over-inflated ego, who is a control freak and won’t take ownership for his own shortcomings.

Trouble in Houston?

Recent articles and tweets aren’t making the situation any clearer. As far back as June 18 Yahoo Sports writer Vincent Goodwill offered up an article which stated both players vocalized the need for a change. Goodwill stated CP3 demanded to be traded whereas Harden apparently demanded management pick between the pair.

"The delicate relationship between Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Chris Paul has been termed “unsalvageable” and the star players want a divorce, league sources told Yahoo Sports.Paul went to Rockets management and demanded a trade, and Harden issued a “him or me” edict following the Rockets’ second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors, sources said."

A pattern of relationship issues:

On the opposite side of the equation, with the trade now complete both stars are insisting there isn’t any truth to them not getting along. In fairness, this isn’t uncommon for players (especially those still active) to not vocalize problems publicly.

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It wasn’t that long ago (2015-16 season) a similar narrative occurred in Houston. The reports that season was Harden demanded Dwight Howard be traded and Kevin McHale fired. Although all parties denied there were any requests or issues McHale was fired 11 games into the season and Howard departed at the end of the season to join the Hawks.

During the playoffs, with the Rockets trailing 0-2 in their second-round series against the Golden State Warriors GM Daryl Morey stated emphatically Paul never requested a trade and would still be with the Rockets in 2019-20. Hmmm – guess that makes sense for Morey to say especially while the team was still playing, but it does point to a pattern.

Houston Chronicle writer Jonathan Feigen offered Morey’s specific quote on the matter:

"The Rockets’ general manager said neither Paul nor his representatives have ever asked for Paul to be traded and that Paul will be with the Rockets next season."

This week James Harden spoke out on the duo’s relationship saying that while they may have argued on the court the negative media comments weren’t true. Brian T. Smith of The Chronicle posted a video on Twitter where Harden provided his take on the matter.

"“Obviously as teammates, as competitors, you have your disagreements on the court, your arguments on the court but that’s just part of basketball, everybody has that no matter what level of basketball your running. All the negative media stuff and all the stuff that was running, it wasn’t true. Chris and me had constant communication and you know we were good.”"

CP3 thoughts focused elsewhere:

For his part, CP3 hasn’t addressed the matter although he is offering up commentary on the one taboo subject in the locker rooms — money. His interview as with Clevis Murray can be viewed in his paid for subscription The Athletic article.

Paul’s comments make sense and that isn’t something tied solely to the NBA. Anyone can relate to this comment since it’s not typical for anyone to walk into work and begin discussing salary.

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That wraps up in the news for Sunday, July 21. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend and make sure to visit Thunderous Intentions daily as we serve up news and analysis of your favorite team and OKC Thunder players.