Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta expects James Harden and Chris Paul to be back together next season
Fox 26 sports director Mark Berman tweeted Fertitta’s sentiments on June 18.
#Rockets owner @TilmanJFertitta on James Harden & Chris Paul: "These are 2 very competitive athletes & all they want to do is win a championship together for the Houston Rockets.We're excited to have them back and we look forward to using this opportunity to try to be successful"
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 19, 2019
Fertitta’s comments come in the wake of Tim MacMahon’s ESPN article exposing alleged friction between Harden and Paul. This became palpable during a post-game conference in the first round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz. “Harden got all the action while Paul served as an increasingly frustrated bystander,” MacMahon wrote on June 17.
According to ESPN, most of the media’s questions were directed toward Harden. This prompted Paul to leave the news conference after just two minutes.
Paul and Harden “had tense exchanges regarding Harden’s ball dominance and Paul’s desire to run set plays” in the Rocket’s season-ending Game 6 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the second round, per MacMahon. Paul didn’t share the podium with Harden that night.
“There’s too much damn turmoil.” A look at the frustration and internal friction the Rockets face as the franchise tries to figure out how to get over the hump. https://t.co/AgL4sMsPKm
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 17, 2019
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey dispelled the rumors to ESPN on Tuesday.
We have two high-level competitors, Chris and James, who their only goal in life at this point is to win the title. They’ve accomplished everything else, they are both going to be first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Two competitive superstars at that level, there’s going to be times when they are extremely competitive, extremely focused on how do we get to that next level, and when we don’t, there’s going to be frustration.
It’s plain and simple Fertitta and Morey’s statements complement one another. They say Paul and Harden’s competitive juices got the better of them. If this is the fuel the Rockets need to win a third NBA title, so be it.