James Harden was not at the Houston Rockets’ first team practice on Sunday due to COVID-19 protocols, first-year coach Stephen Silas said, via ESPN. He didn’t show up to his scheduled individual workout on Sunday night, either.
Harden reportedly wants out of the organization and turned down a contract extension that would have made him the first player in NBA history to earn $50 million a year. He has reportedly requested a trade and would prefer to land with the Brooklyn Nets.
Why wasn’t James Harden at practice?
The NBA required anyone participating in training camp to quarantine at their homes from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2 ahead of training camp. Individual workouts could begin last week and group training sessions were scheduled to begin on Sunday.
Harden posted photos on Instagram over the weekend of him attending rapper Lil’ Baby’s birthday party. No one was wearing face masks in the photos posted of the party.
He is expected to have an individual workout at Houston’s Toyota Center on Sunday night, Silas said via ESPN. The coach said he has not recently spoken with the star.
“I’m not exactly sure what hoops he has to jump through in order to practice with the team," Silas said, via ESPN.
“I would just say I want him here, and I want him to be a big part of what we’re doing. I’m excited to coach him and have him be a part of what we just had out there with a good practice, with a bunch of guys who are working hard on both ends of the floor and had a good vibe about them.”
Harden’s commitment to Rockets questioned
Harden and Russell Westbrook, who was traded last week to the Washington Wizards for point guard John Wall, reportedly spoke with management about their concerns regarding the team’s future. They reportedly cited questions about the franchise’s direction and the window for a championship.
Inversely, the Rockets were reportedly worried one or both would request a trade — both did indeed ask out, per reports. And Westbrook is already gone.
Silas referenced Harden’s commitment with reporters on Sunday, directing them to ask Harden “when he gets here.”
Stephen Silas on James Harden's commitment to the Rockets: "That's a question you're going to have to ask him when he gets here."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 6, 2020
The Rockets went through a lot of change in the shortened offseason. Silas replaced Mike D’Antoni after the latter left the organization. General manager Daryl Morey also left, replaced by Rafael Stone.
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