Rumor: James Harden told Mike D’Antoni during last playoff game Rockets had to move Chris Paul

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

The Rockets repeatedly pushed that no rift existed between James Harden and Chris Paul.

Chris Paul blew the lid right off the idea.

Paul said, since getting traded to the Thunder, he and Harden hadn’t really spoken. Paul also said Houston general manager Daryl Morey told him a few days before the deal that Paul wouldn’t be sent to Oklahoma City, adding an even more incriminating timeline to Morey’s public declaration he wouldn’t trade Paul. That only further undermines the trustworthiness of Morey, who led the charge of denying issues between Harden and Paul.

That gets us back to the previous question: Just how corrosive was tension between Harden and Paul?

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Zach Lowe of ESPN discussed on the The Lowe Post podcast.

Spears:

I really want to go watch that last game, because I’ve heard talk about body language and James maybe not running up and down the court or them barking at each other.

Lowe:

On the bench. That story is going around, that there was a lot of bench barking.

Spears:

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. 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.”

Lowe:

Out of the game?

Spears:

No.

Lowe:

Out of here here?

Spears:

Out of here here.

After that Game 6 loss to the Warriors, Harden said, “I know what we need to do. I know exactly what we need to do. We’ll figure it out this summer.” Many assumed he meant trading Paul. Good luck convincing anyone otherwise now.

Harden has now run off both his co-stars in Houston, Dwight Howard and Paul. Harden’s relationships with each were clearly far from perfect, but it requires major talent to win a championship. The Rockets would be better off if Harden could expand the pool of players he gets along with.

Russell Westbrook is now Harden’s sidekick, and they appear to get along well. But Harden and Paul meshed early in their tenure together. Even if Harden and Westbrook stay on the same page, both are approaching the end of their primes.

That’s the major consequence of Harden and Paul not succeeding together – the time lost trying.

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