When rumors starting spreading that James Harden and Chris Paul were not getting along, Rockets GM quickly squashed the rumored beef. He then said CP3 was not on the trade block.
Dan Patrick: “Is everybody available on the roster?”
Daryl Morey: “No.”
Patrick: “Who is not available?”
Morey: “Chris and James.”
The Rockets GM believed that their style of play could deliver a title, and he felt that the team’s starting five proved itself to be the best unit in basketball by the end of the regular season.
Patrick: “You’re saying that no matter what anybody offers, anybody calls, that Chris Paul and James Harden will be in the backcourt next season?”
Morey: “I mean, again, we were the best team down the stretch. We spent a lot of time putting together two superstars. We’re trying to add a third. Going backwards from that doesn’t make a lot of sense for us.”
Now fast forward to yesterday, and CP3 is gone.
So what gives?
James Harden assured Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that he and Russell Westbrook will happily co-exist in Houston.
“I know how to play with Russ and he knows how to play with me,” Harden told Morey prior to the blockbuster trade that landed Westbrook, and sent Chris Paul to the OKC Thunder.
The two former MVPs are each chasing their first NBA title, and will re-join forces after spending three years together as young pups in OKC.
As discussions between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder on a blockbuster deal for Russell Westbrook grew serious Thursday, Daryl Morey, Houston’s general manager, called James Harden to discuss how both stars might work together. Harden gently cut Morey off and reminded him:
“I know how to play with Russ and he knows how to play with me,” Morey recounted to ESPN.com late Thursday in Las Vegas.
That was Harden’s message to Morey over the phone on Thursday. That was Westbrook’s message in choosing the Rockets as one of his destinations — along with the Miami Heat, who may now pursue Paul as something of a consolation prize. (The Rockets hoped to turn the deal into a three-team trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.)
Westbrook was enthusiastic about playing with Harden again, per sources familiar with the talks. That kind of buy-in matters. Both superstars will have to change for this to work, even though Mike D’Antoni will probably stagger minutes as rigidly as he did with Harden and Paul. D’Antoni’s experience coaching Westbrook on Team USA boosted Houston’s comfort level making this deal, sources say. The Thunder belonged to Westbrook in almost every way. The Rockets do not. Maybe that alone will spur some change in him.
Great basketball players figure it out.
Of course these two like the ball….a lot, but they’ll figure it out.
Want More From Sports Gossip?