If there’s trouble brewing between Chris Paul and his Houston Rockets teammates, the veteran point guard is doing his best to hide it.
Paul spoke with the media on Sunday at his Go Hoop Day celebrations in Los Angeles on Sunday, where he shot down rumors that he is unhappy with his current team.
“I’ll be in Houston,” Paul said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good.”
Of course, Paul doesn’t have a lot of options for what to say. If he did truly want a trade, giving any more credence to reports of him being a bad teammate would only hurt his trade value.
Chris Paul-James Harden relationship is ‘unsalvageable’
As first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, Paul’s relationship with the Rockets and James Harden has reached a breaking point, and it seems best for all parties to split up.
Goodwill reported that Harden made a “him or me” ultimatum and that Paul requested a trade, although Paul made sure to deny that on Sunday:
“I never asked for a trade,” Paul said. “I never demanded a trade.”
Two seasons ago, the Rockets had the league’s best record and held a 3-2 lead over the eventual champion Golden State Warriors before Paul suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. The players’ differences might feel smaller had they come home with a ring instead of another playoff exit.
Instead, the two ball-dominant guards found it hard to coexist. Paul reportedly is tired of Harden’s style, and Harden didn’t appreciate Paul’s personality and injury problems. The only issue is that Paul still has $124 million over three years left on his contract.
Can the Rockets find a taker for Chris Paul?
Paul’s $41 million salary might not sound so bad a year or two ago, but between his injuries and declining play — two issues that won’t get better with age — he has one of the toughest contracts to move in the league.
Paul's shooting numbers are particularly concerning. His 41.9 percent shooting from the field was a career-low, while his 35.8 percent three-point shot was a worst since 2012-13. From the all-important corner, he was even worse at 34.5 percent.
The Rockets reportedly tried to swing Paul to the New York Knicks but were rebuffed. Even if the Knicks’ chances of landing at least one of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are diminished, they still didn’t want to take a chance on the nine-time All-Star.
Finding a fit for Paul will be tricky, especially since they Rockets are reportedly trying to clear salary to land Jimmy Butler. Few teams with cap space are going to be gunning for the playoffs, so the Rockets may have to settle for swapping bad contracts.
For example, Paul hails from North Carolina, and the Charlotte Hornets might hypothetically be a fit. However, they would only need him if Kemba Walker leaves, and if that happens, they may just prefer to rebuild from the ground up instead of taking on a disgruntled former star.
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