Rockets' Morey addresses Paul, Harden tension

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Monday that he looks at any tension between Chris Paul and James Harden as a good thing because it means both stars want to win.

Morey, speaking in an interview with ESPN Radio's Golic & Wingo, also said Paul has not asked to be traded by the team.

"No. No, he has not," he said.

Morey was responding to an ESPN story published Monday that detailed turmoil around the team and tension between its two biggest stars, Harden and Paul.

"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," Morey said. "I'm frustrated, our top players are frustrated, Mike D'Antoni is frustrated. We want to take the last step and be the champion and I think it's good that there is tension in the sense that we all want to win."

As for D'Antoni's future, Morey said he is confident the team and coach will eventually come to an agreement to extend his contract beyond next season. D'Antoni announced last month that he has broken off talks with the team after he couldn't come to terms on an extension.

"He's going to be our coach next year. We're hoping to work things out for the future right now; if we don't, we're going to work it out after next season," he said. "We love Mike, he's a favorite of our players -- all our top players love playing for him. We're going to work it out."

Morey said the Rockets will be aggressive this offseason to solidify their status as favorites, in his opinion, to win the Western Conference. He acknowledged, however, that making moves will likely bring more tension.

"We feel like we should be the favorite in the West, and we're going to do moves to show people that we should be the favorite in the West, and that's going to create a little tension when we do that. But at the end of the day, we're going to have at least our starting five back, which again most teams are scrambling to keep it together and we're going to spend midlevel, we're going to spend into the tax. We're going to be one of the most expensive rosters like we were last year and this year and we're going to be right there," he said.

Morey credited owner Tilman Fertitta for allowing him to be aggressive.

"Tilman wants to win. He's spending whatever it takes. He's authorized me to go into the tax for multiple years going forward. We're going to spend whatever it takes to win," he said.

Asked for his reaction to the Los Angeles Lakers' trade for Anthony Davis, Morey said, "Somehow we've been lost in the shuffle."

He also noted that the Rockets were the best team after the All-Star break and said, "We are either going to add a third star or a top midlevel player to our core and be better next year.

"For me, this story is how wide-open the West is and how we are right there in the mix, and probably the favorite going into next year."

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