UPDATE: Dec. 10 — James Harden is open to a trade to the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Notably, Charania reported that Harden is currently in Houston, “complying with the NBA’s coronavirus testing protocol, and sources close to the team and Harden expect the former league MVP to remain professional.” The NBA said on Wednesday that Harden has to have six negative Covid-19 tests before he can begin practicing with the Rockets.
UPDATE: Dec. 8 — James Harden is open to a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers or another contending team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon reported Tuesday. Harden has yet to report to training camp for the Rockets, opting instead to attend birthday parties and hit up the club. Harden had requested a trade and was hoping to land with the Brooklyn Nets. It’s apparent that the Rockets are asking for “A King’s Ransom” in exchange for Harden, which has made teams reluctant to make a deal.
Woj also reiterates that the reason trade talks for Harden have slowed is because teams are unwilling to give up the assets to acquire him. If a team is going to give up a ton of picks and high-quality prospects to get Harden, he would need to commit long-term. The problem is Harden isn’t eligible for an extension, so there’s a decent amount of risk involved. If things were to fall through after acquiring Harden, he could opt for free agency after two seasons and bolt.
The Houston Rockets opened up training camp for practices on Sunday and James Harden remains absent into the beginning of the week. New coach Stephen Silas told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that there’s a reason for Harden’s absence and that the All-Star guard can tell everyone for himself. Clearly, it sounds like Silas is fed up with being asked about Harden and why he isn’t at camp yet with the season set to begin in a few weeks.
If you’re up on social media, you know what Harden has been up to. We know that Harden didn’t initially report because he was at a birthday party in Atlanta for rapper Lil Baby. Because of this, there’s reason to believe Harden isn’t reporting because he will likely need to quarantine after making his way to practice. But then there was speculation Harden was at the strip club the night after the party. So who knows what’s going on really. We know Harden wanted out of Houston and that the Rockets were adamant about keeping him around this season. Will that lead to a holdout from Harden? We’ll have to wait and see.
The Rockets traded for PG John Wall and shipped out Russell Westbrook last week. The move was said to be in an attempt to make Harden happy, since reports said Harden preferred Wall to Westbrook. Houston also brought in DeMarcus Cousins and Christian Wood to give some size up front. We still haven’t heard from Harden on any of this and the last reports still said he requested a trade. There’s some reason to believe either Harden knows he has all control over the situation and doesn’t care or is willing to sit out and force a trade.