Rockets forward P.J. Tucker chimed in on the alleged “beef” between James Harden and Chris Paul and said no other team in the league is more talented than Houston.
Due to their star power and strong work ethic, both James Harden and Chris Paul are strong leaders and thus command a lot of respect in the Rockets locker room. Sometimes, the best players on teams can bump heads, especially when coming up short in the postseason.
After a post-game argument between Harden and Paul after their team was eliminated in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the media has painted Houston as an organization that is falling apart at the seams. From rumors saying that Paul had requested a trade from Houston to reports that Paul and Harden’s relationship had soured beyond repair, some NBA reporters have seemingly blown every story out of proportion for the sake of clicks.
Fortunately, both Daryl Morey and Chris Paul himself have denied that the veteran point guard ever requested a trade and have reassured Rockets fans that CP3 will be back in Houston next season.
P.J. Tucker, who is a glue-guy of sorts in the Rockets’ locker room, spoke pretty candidly about the current state of the team. He said that everyone was angry after Houston was eliminated from the postseason, but played down any rumors of dysfunction within the locker room, via The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
“It was what it was. Everybody’s mad. Everybody’s pissed. You can’t – I’m sick of all the highlight of whoever this person is trying to come up with all this crap, like I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue with each other. Like, I’m the center, focal (point) of the argument because I’m always yelling at somebody and they’re yelling at me.”
Tucker went on to say that there’s always some degree of tension on great teams because anything less than a championship will be considered a failed season. He pointed to how Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal didn’t always see eye to eye, but they still won three consecutive championships together. Furthermore, Draymond Green was suspended a game by the Warriors in the early parts of last season for a confrontation he had with Kevin Durant. Yet, the Warriors still made the NBA Finals and could’ve won it all if they were at full strength.
Reports in the media indicate that the Rockets will strongly pursue a sign-and-trade deal for Jimmy Butler this summer in order to add a third star to the roster. That could be a complicated deal for the Rockets, but even if they just keep the core together and revamp the bench, Tucker told Amick that there isn’t a team in the NBA that’s better than the Rockets as they stand now.
“It’d be a shame for a team to win 65 games (two seasons ago) and 50-something games (last season) in back to back seasons to dissipate, but in this business you never know. I would hope from what we’re doing, that we want to win right now. We’ve got a team to win right now. So with all the things that is going on in the league right now, I don’t think there’s anybody right now who can say they’ve got a better roster than us. Nobody – top to bottom, in the NBA.”
One thing is for certain: Even after suffering disappointing losses to the Warriors in consecutive seasons, the Rockets haven’t lost faith in their ability to go the distance. This is a very confident group of guys.
Due to his leadership, hard-nosed defense, and overall grit, Tucker is one of the most valuable players in Houston’s locker room. The Rockets appear to be in-line for a busy summer as they look to improve the team in a western conference that no longer has a standout favorite. Outside of Harden or Paul, I suspect that Tuck would be the main player the Rockets will try to hold on to this summer.