Does a change of scenery lie a head for the megastar?
Houston Rockets star James Harden has been holding out on training camp as he has requested a trade from the team. It has been reported that his target destinations are either the Brooklyn Nets or the Philadelphia 76ers. However, he is open to being traded to other contenders.
This request caps off a nightmare of an offseason that saw all-star Russell Westbrook also request a trade from the team. He has since been shipped to the Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a first-round pick.
The NBA set a protocol to have all players report to their home markets by Nov. 28 or Nov. 30 to begin daily coronavirus testing.
Harden, however, was in Atlanta as recently as this past weekend as he was in attendance for a birthday party for rapper Lil Baby.
The Rockets held their first team practice on Sunday, while Harden was absent from the team. New head coach Stephen Silas told reporters that Harden hadn’t arrived for the practice but was expected to train individually later in the evening.
This comes on the heels of Harden turning down a contract extension with the Rockets a few weeks ago. The rumored offer was a two-year $103 million dollar extension, however, Harden “made it clear to ownership that he’s singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.”
Even though Harden would like to be traded, the Rockets are in no rush to move him. He can’t opt out of his current contract until 2022, so waiting to see how this plays out is Houston’s best move.
It was also reported on Nov. 17 that the Rockets are “willing to get uncomfortable” rather than to trade Harden away.
Newly acquired point guard John Wall believes that Harden will still be a member of the Rockets this season. “For sure. That was the main reason why, talking through this whole process of what was going to happen with this trade, if it happened or did not happen. One of the reasons was we wanted to play together. I have 100 percent (belief) he wants to be with this organization, see what happens with this team and see where we can go,” Wall said in an interview.
There is some good news for the Rockets, however, as Harden has arrived in Houston and tested in accordance with the NBA’s protocol on Tuesday. This doesn’t mean that he has pulled back his trade request, but it does mean that he is preparing to start the season with the Rockets.
With his future in Houston uncertain, it appears as though Harden will at least start the season with the Rockets.