- James Harden has yet to report to the Houston Rockets’ training camp as of Monday.
- The Rockets pointed to COVID-19 protocols as the reason for Harden’s absence.
- Harden has demanded a trade from the Rockets.
The Houston Rockets broke up their MVP backcourt last week and while one of them looks ready in his new home, the Rockets are still looking for the other one right now.
Russell Westbrook showed up two hours early for his first practice with the Washington Wizards and reportedly set the tone with his intensity during the sessions:
Russell Westbrook showed up two hours early to his first Wizards practice and “set a tone” with his intensity, per @ChaseHughesNBCS pic.twitter.com/cVibY8SPgE
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 7, 2020
And while that will not necessarily translate to wins, it’s a good start for Russ and the Wizards.
But while Westbrook looks ready and determined in Washington, Houston is still looking for James Harden. The Rockets’ superstar has yet to show up for the start of training camp and according to the team, Harden’s absence is due to COVID-10 protocols. However, given the situation between the team and player, there could be more to that.
Willing To Get Uncomfortable
Rockets ‘Willing To Get Uncomfortable’ With James Harden, Russell Westbrook https://t.co/7VJP5FzuOE
— RealGM (@RealGM) November 18, 2020
Last month, ESPN reported that the Rockets are willing to get “uncomfortable” with their MVP backcourt after the two of them requested to be traded. The article said that Houston has no problem starting training camp or the season with Harden and Westbrook unhappy because after all, both have contracts with the team.
After a lengthy negotiation, the Rockets ended up trading Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a future pick. Meanwhile, Houston’s stand on Harden was different and they seem to be hardballing the former MVP. Their first option is to patch things up and make things work with Harden again. If that is not feasible, they will look for a trade but will not be in a hurry to do so.
Harden has reportedly asked to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets where he can join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a super team that could fast track his championship ambitions. But the Rockets want a hefty return for Harden and the Nets don’t have the players that Houston wants.
Wall Says Harden Will Stay
New @HoustonRockets @JohnWall on his conversation with @JHarden13 pic.twitter.com/dpy04WHWPJ
— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) December 6, 2020
Given his trade demand, it’s easy to speculate that Harden’s continued absence from training camp is part of his action plan to force his way out of Houston. According to John Wall, he has spoken with Harden since being traded to Space City and Wall said that they both want to play with each other next season. Wall added that he expects Harden “for sure” to join the team in the coming days.
According to new Rockets head coach Stephen Silas, he doesn’t know when Harden will return and it’s a setback for the team:
“As far as timetable, there’s no timetable as far as I know, and it is a setback. You want your best player to be here. And there’s a short window. It is a setback. I have to be honest and understand this is a setback not having one of the best players in the NBA here. But I’m working with the guys who are here, and we’re working hard.”
Silas has not spoken to Harden yet since taking over the coaching job from Mike D’Antoni. Last Thursday, Silas spoke about giving Harden “space” but anticipated that the 2017-18 MVP would be all-in when the Rockets begin their practices. However, not only was Harden absent in Houston’s first day at training camp, he also missed an individual workout that was scheduled for last Sunday evening at the Toyota Center.
Houston, Do We Have a Problem?
where we’re currently at for those wanting the Sparknotes version pic.twitter.com/Ycc2nq2OZo
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 6, 2020
The Rockets pointed to COVID-19 protocols as the reason why Harden continues to miss the Rockets’ practice and that’s a valid excuse. But while that’s correct, James Harden didn’t just miss the team and individual practices but he wasn’t even in Houston in the first place.
TMZ Sports reported that Harden attended rapper Li’l Baby’s birthday party at the Blume Restaurant in Las Vegas while his teammates were required to be in-market and some doing individual workouts. Reports say that Harden didn’t even leave Las Vegas on Sunday when he had a scheduled individual workout. Worse, he posted a grimacing emoji on Instagram.
It’s hard to put words in James Harden’s mouth because he has not spoken to the media since the Rockets were eliminated by the eventual NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2020 playoffs. However, actions speak louder than words. And no matter what the Rockets, Silas, or Wall says, James Harden isn’t acting like he wants to play for the Rockets again. Or maybe it’s just us?