Chris Paul denies making trade request: 'I'll be in Houston... I'm happy about that'

If there’s trouble brewing between Chris Paul and his Houston Rockets teammates, the veteran point guard is doing his best to hide it.

Paul spoke with the media on Sunday at his Go Hoop Day celebrations in Los Angeles on Sunday, where he shot down rumors that he is unhappy with his current team.

“I’ll be in Houston,” Paul said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good.”

Of course, Paul doesn’t have a lot of options for what to say. If he did truly want a trade, giving any more credence to reports of him being a bad teammate would only hurt his trade value.

Chris Paul-James Harden relationship is ‘unsalvageable’

As first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, Paul’s relationship with the Rockets and James Harden has reached a breaking point, and it seems best for all parties to split up.

Goodwill reported that Harden made a “him or me” ultimatum and that Paul requested a trade, although Paul made sure to deny that on Sunday:

“I never asked for a trade,” Paul said. “I never demanded a trade.”

Two seasons ago, the Rockets had the league’s best record and held a 3-2 lead over the eventual champion Golden State Warriors before Paul suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. The players’ differences might feel smaller had they come home with a ring instead of another playoff exit.

Instead, the two ball-dominant guards found it hard to coexist. Paul reportedly is tired of Harden’s style, and Harden didn’t appreciate Paul’s personality and injury problems. The only issue is that Paul still has $124 million over three years left on his contract.

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Chris Paul and James Harden together on the Rockets
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Chris Paul and James Harden together on the Rockets
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets react to a call by the referee during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 02: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets look on during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on April 2, 2019 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 21: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 react as they both foul out during a 111-106 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on February 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets (R) talk on the bench in the first half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on November 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 24: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 talk on the sidelines during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on November 24, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 04: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 during warm ups before playing the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center on October 4, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 25: (L-R) Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Nene attend the 2018 NBA Awards at Barkar Hangar on June 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 10: James Harden (L) and Chris Paul attend Summer Jam 2018 at MetLife Stadium on June 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 25: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets talks with Chris Paul #3 in the second half during Game Five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 18: Chris Paul #3 and James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets look on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 18, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 26: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets stands on the court during a NBA game against the Houston Rockets at the Smoothie King Center on January 26, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 22: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets celebrate after Paul made a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter Miami Heat at Toyota Center on January 22, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, left, and guard James Harden look on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Rockets' Chris Paul (3) speaks with James Harden (13) in the second half during Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Utah Jazz, Monday, April 22, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, talks with teammate Chris Paul as they walk off the court during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. The Rockets won 130-105. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, and Chris Paul (3) talk on the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Sunday, March 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden, right, talks with guard Chris Paul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Can the Rockets find a taker for Chris Paul?

Paul’s $41 million salary might not sound so bad a year or two ago, but between his injuries and declining play — two issues that won’t get better with age — he has one of the toughest contracts to move in the league.

Paul's shooting numbers are particularly concerning. His 41.9 percent shooting from the field was a career-low, while his 35.8 percent three-point shot was a worst since 2012-13. From the all-important corner, he was even worse at 34.5 percent.

The Rockets reportedly tried to swing Paul to the New York Knicks but were rebuffed. Even if the Knicks’ chances of landing at least one of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are diminished, they still didn’t want to take a chance on the nine-time All-Star.

Finding a fit for Paul will be tricky, especially since they Rockets are reportedly trying to clear salary to land Jimmy Butler. Few teams with cap space are going to be gunning for the playoffs, so the Rockets may have to settle for swapping bad contracts.

For example, Paul hails from North Carolina, and the Charlotte Hornets might hypothetically be a fit. However, they would only need him if Kemba Walker leaves, and if that happens, they may just prefer to rebuild from the ground up instead of taking on a disgruntled former star.

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