Rockets Rumors: Chris Paul Demanded Trade, James Harden Had 'Him or Me' Demand

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 18, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, talks with teammate Chris Paul as they walk off the court during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. The Rockets won 130-105. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Dysfunction within the Houston Rockets could lead one of the franchise's two biggest stars to part ways with the team.  

Per Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill, the relationship between Chris Paul and James Harden is considered "unsalvageable" from league sources, and both players have met with Rockets management to discuss the situation. 

Paul demanded the organization trade him, while Harden gave them a "him or me" edict in the wake of their playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors last month. That came after both players created a "tenuous environment for teammates and everyone involved with the franchise" by not speaking with each other for two months during the regular season. 

Paul responded to the report on Instagram: "Damn! That’s news to me..."

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle no one from Paul's camp has ever asked for a trade and the All-Star point guard will be on the team next season. 

Morey added there are no issues between Harden and Paul, and he's spoken to both players about the Rockets' offseason plans. 

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There have been indications since the second-round loss to the Warriors that something was going on behind the scenes in Houston. 

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Harden and Paul had "tense moments with one another" in the decisive sixth game against Golden State and engaged in a "verbal back-and-forth" in the locker room after the 118-113 defeat ended their season. 

On May 29, ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Morey was making the "entire roster and future draft picks available in trade talks" this offseason. 

Wojnarowski did note "the possibility of trading [Harden] is believed to be extremely limited."

It would make sense for the Rockets to keep building around Harden instead of Paul. He's five years younger and could win his second consecutive NBA MVP award. The seven-time All-Star averaged a career-high 36.1 points per game during the regular season. 

The problem is Paul's age and contract could make him difficult to deal. The 34-year-old is guaranteed $79.9 million over the next two seasons and has a $44.2 million player option for 2021-22, per Spotrac

Injuries have caused Paul to miss to 24 games during the regular season in each of his first two years with the Rockets. His 15.6 points per game and 41.9 shooting percentage were the worst of his career.