Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported June 18 that Harden and Paul's relationship was "unsalvageable" and they went almost two months without speaking during the season.
Drawing a parallel between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, Tucker asserted that if Harden and Paul experience some friction, it would be overshadowed by the Rockets' success, per The Athletic's Sam Amick (warning: link contains profanity):
"Nah, but guess what? They won championships together. Right? And that's what people care about, right? That's what we talking about, right? Nah, but we're talking about winning championships, right? So that's all that matters. To win a championship. That's it. Nothing else matters. If we win a championship together and we f--king hate each other, then guess what? Who cares?"
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey acted quickly to refute Goodwill's report that Paul had requested a trade.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith also said on the June 19 edition of First Take he had spoken with Paul. The nine-time All-Star not only denied demanding a trade but also that he and Harden weren't speaking with each other.
A day earlier on First Take, O'Neal was a guest to provide some insight on his relationship with Bryant and how it related to Harden and Paul. The Hall of Famer said he and Bryant "respected each other" despite not always seeing eye to eye and noted that would be critical for Houston.
O'Neal and Bryant played together for eight years and helped guide the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight NBA championships. But Amick noted the two legends eventually got to the point where O'Neal asked for a trade and received it in 2004.
Regardless of Tucker's assessment, the Rockets appear to be committed to building around Harden and Paul. Unfortunately for Tucker, he may not be a part of that future.
Lowe and colleague Adrian Wojnarowski reported Houston is making Tucker, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon available in trades to clear salary-cap space to try to swing a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler.