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James Harden And Chris Paul Need Some Deep Breaths And A Long Hug

Pictured: Two men trying not to kill one another
Photo: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

A new report from Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports adds some gory detail to previous rumblings of a civil war between Chris Paul and James Harden. Goodwill’s sources describe the relationship between the Rockets’ stars as “unsalvageable,” and add that “Chris doesn’t respect James’ standing in the league, and James doesn’t respect the work Chris has put in to this point.” It’d be so sad if it wasn’t so funny:

Paul’s injury-related absences and grating personality have annoyed Harden, sources said.

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What’s especially funny is the timing. During this season, the teammates reportedly went two months without speaking. And yet, for two years running, Houston has been the only squad in the West to make the Golden State Warriors sweat come playoff time. Now injuries have hobbled Golden State for at least a season, and the conference lies wide open. The Lakers might have assembled one of the great NBA Jam teams in league history, but they’re still six guys short of an actual rotation and the Rob Lowe doppelganger in charge should not be trusted to fill it out competently. The Rockets, after a seven-game series loss and a six-game series loss, are the team best equipped to just run it back and expect better results. All they had to do was not tear each other apart.

Looking back at this James Harden presser, right after his team’s season ended, he clearly had other plans in mind.

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Harden is as fixed a point as exists in the NBA. If the roster shifts, it will do so around him. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has reportedly begun shopping Chris Paul, but isn’t going to find many ready takers. Need at point guard is not that dire across the league, and surely it is not so dire that a team would eat Paul’s bloated contract with its enormous player option for the 2021-22 season. So, James, Chris: schedule some couples therapy, camp out and take some LSD together, or try a retreat on Tillman Fertita’s dime. Because some day soon a fatter, feistier, 36-year-old Chris Paul will be paid $44 million, and chances are it’ll be the Houston Rockets footing the bill.

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