Dwight Howard and James Harden have been the subject of intense speculation for years now. It's almost reached Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal-esque levels, and despite a catalogue of denials from both parites, the rumours linger in Texas that all is not well between the two franchise players.
Rumours began swirling ahead of the 2016 trade deadline that Howard and Harden went to the Houston Rockets executives and individually asked them to trade the other one.
While ultimately nobody made the switch and they have both remained in the red of the Rockets, the media continues to paint the picture that Houston isn't big enough for the both of them.
Howard's impending free agency - should he choose to exercise that right in his contract this summer - is an interesting sub-plot in the whole narrative.
One would think if there really was untenable problems at the Toyota Center that this would be the perfect opportunity for Howard - who recently signed with Shaquille O'Neal's agent - to get away from Harden.
However, it appears that Howard, 30, is intent on mending all fences right now. Following his high priase for O'Neal's role in helping arrange his new representation, the center has also spoken glowingly of Harden and his similar path to the NBA that Howard has endured.
Howard told Sam Amick of USA Today: “People feel like we hate each other. I have no hate in my blood for this man, you know? For what? He came from nothing. We both came from nothing. And we’re doing something that we love. We grew up playing this game for fun, and we had big dreams of making it to the NBA.
“So I would never hate this man because I know what it took for me to get here, and he made it. So I want him to succeed. I want us to succeed. Before coming here, I watched endless hours of YouTube videos on James Harden, before he had the beard. I watched all that stuff, because I’m like, ‘Dang, this boy, he’s got so much talent.’"
It can't hurt for Howard to be so publicly vocal in his praise for Harden and the four-time All-Star is likely to appreciate the comments, if not reciprocate them.
They might not necessarily hate each other. It's quite common in any team sport that two players might not enjoy playing alongisde one another for stylistic reasons above all else, and that doesn't automatically equate to hate.
The Rockets are embroiled in a battle for the final three playoff seeds of which they currently inhabit the eighth and final one.
If the Rockets are to fend off the Portland Trail Blazers, the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz to secure one of those final three places, chances are they'll need Howard and Harden on the same page.