The Houston Rockets started preparation for the 2020-21 season this past weekend with former league MVP James Harden noticeably absent. Harden was seen in Georgia over the past few days, taking part in parties in violation of the NBA COVID-19 protocols.
All of this comes with a backdrop that includes James Harden requesting a trade from the Rockets. It also comes with first-year head coach Stephen Silas looking to put together his system without much time to work with.
In talking about the Harden situation on Monday, Silas did not hold back.
Rockets head coach blasts James Harden
“There is no timetable and it is a setback,” Silas told reporters when asked when Harden might report, via Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Silas expanded on that by telling reporters that Harden “has a reason” for his absence “but that’s on him to tell whoever what the reason is.”
It seems pretty clear that Silas is fed up with his star player. For good reason. He’s trying to install a new system in Houston. The team legitimately just traded fellow former MVP Russell Westbrook for John Wall last week. If Harden isn’t all in, it will obviously impact the Rockets’ success with the 2020-21 regular season slated to start in about two weeks.
As noted above, Harden was seen in Georgia late last week at hip-hop artist Lil’ Baby’s birthday bash. That was a violation of NBA COVID-19 protocols, which indicated that players return to their home markets on either Nov. 28 or Nov. 30 for daily testing and self quarantine.
There’s also unconfirmed reports that James Harden was seen partying it up at Drai’s Nightclub in Las Vegas over the weekend.
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Potential James Harden trade?
That’s the biggest question right now. One could easily assume that Harden’s actions are not a coincidence. There’s a good chance he’s attempting to force the Rockets’ hands. This comes after a several-week period of tension between the NBA’s best scorer and his organization.
- James Harden turns down largest per-year contract in NBA history at roughly $50 million.
- James Harden trade demand becomes public record, upsetting the Rockets in the process.
- James Harden and Russell Westbrook have questions over the direction of the organization following the departures of head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey.
- Westbrook’s eventual trade to the Wizards reportedly had a lot to do with issues between himself and Harden.
At this point, Harden is not painting himself in the best of lights. One has to wonder whether that will have an impact on teams potentially chasing after him.
Related: James Harden trade scenarios
Teams linked to James Harden
- Brooklyn Nets: This one is rather obvious. Harden had indicated indirectly to the media that he would prefer a trade to the Nets. A package was also bandied about with Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen heading back to Houston.
- Golden State Warriors: Prior to Klay Thompson suffering a torn Achilles, the Warriors had put in a call to Houston about acquiring James Harden. It remains to be seen if the team still has interest in the former NBA MVP.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Given Morey’s current role atop the Sixers’ front office, it’s not a surprise that Philadelphia would be interested in Harden. However, it would likely require trading either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. That’s not going to happen.
As of right now, things are in a holding pattern as it relates to James Harden. Whether this most-recent off-court actions change that remains to be seen.
Houston opens its preseason slate Friday evening against the Chicago Bulls. Harden is now highly unlikely to be on hand.