However, things didn't exactly pan out that way as the Rockets were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals in six games earlier this month. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, James Harden and Chris Paul got into a verbal altercation late in Game 6 and the tension spilled over into the locker room.
"But Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium. The Rockets dispensed with exit interviews this year, so the media hasn't been able to ask Paul or Harden about the disappointment."
The Rockets basically brought back the same team for the 2018-19 season, with the notable losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Both Paul and center Clint Capela were re-signed to hefty contracts in the belief that Houston could make another deep postseason run.