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Rockets guard Austin Rivers denies altercation between James Harden, Chris Paul after playoff elimination

Austin Rivers, Chris Paul, James Harden, Rockets

Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers denied the reported altercation between the All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and James Harden after losing Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors.

The report stated that James and Paul had philosophical differences on the play style, as Paul emphasized more ball movement, while James favored the heavy isolation style he and coach Mike D’Antoni had married into for the entire season.

“Never happened,” said Rivers when asked of the matter in ESPN’s First Take. “I literally don’t know where this came from. There was no altercation between CP or James… That loss in Game 6 was so deflating, no one said anything after the game.”

It’s unlikely that either Paul or Harden had their hash-out among everyone else in the locker room, as it seems more of a private directional matter to attempt.

Even if the argument between the two never really existed, as Rivers argues, the fact that Paul reached out to D’Antoni to change up this iso-heavy play style is proof enough that his style simply does not coexist with Harden’s isolation — something general manager Daryl Morey was effusively nonchalant about when first trading for him in 2017 and most recently when he gave Paul an albatross four-year, $160 million deal.

Morey recently put everyone not named James Harden on the trade block, but moving Paul’s remaining $124 million, including the whopping $44.2 million he is owed in his player option, will prove nearly impossible to do without the proper draft pick compensation.