Midway through the regular season a clip emerged of Houston Rockets guards Chris Paul and James Harden getting into it on the bench during a game. Most people, reasonably, brushed it aside as a heated moment between two elite and driven athletes. However, it has emerged that the relationship status between Paul and Harden has become “unsalvageable”.
This does not really come as a surprise. The Rockets season ended with a whimper in the second-round against a Golden State team missing Kevin Durant. Soon after news leaked from Houston detailing a possible rift in the organisation between the owner, Tilman Fertitta, the general manager Daryl Morey and the coach, Mike D’Antoni. After coming so close in 2017/18, losing in a game 7 against Golden State, and then being bested again by their nemesis missing their best player, Houston seemingly hit the reset button.
Chris Paul is set to earn $38.5 million, $41.3 million and $44.2 million over the next three seasons. A contract that Houston is undoubtedly kicking themselves over giving to Paul after recent events led to the race for the NBA title being blown wide open. The severity of Paul’s contract mixed with his age, 34, will make the superstar hard to trade. However, there are an array of teams looking for a starting calibre point guard such as the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and maybe the Boston Celtics.
Chris Paul’s contract is so bad that it would not surprise me if Rob Pelinka decided to add to the dysfunction and reunite the banana boat in Los Angeles.
Paul has a reputation for being a tough teammate and demanding a lot out of his peers which ultimately led to him leaving the Clippers organisation in 2017. To add to Paul’s shabby social skills, his play on the court has dipped severely, Paul is shooting the lowest two-point percentage of his career at 41% and 35% from three, his lowest since 2012.
James Harden has thrived playing point guard in D’Antoni’s system before, so losing a 34-year-old Chris Paul would not be the worst thing for Houston. However, the turmoil is not a fun thing to have going on in your organisation and Paul will not be an easy asset to move. The sooner Houston hit the reset button – the better.