The ongoing saga over James Hardens exit from the Houston Rockets has taken another turn, with the player now requesting that he be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to a report from ESPN.
According to the report, Harden made the request just before the team’s training camp began. The training camp started on the weekend with Harden absent. He has since taken a coronavirus test in Houston, though, and the result of that will determine whether he can join the Rockets in camp.
Harden is well-known for being somewhat temperamental, but he almost always delivers high-quality performances out on the court. It remains to be seen what his attitude will be when he eventually joins the Rockets in camp. He was late to camp because of reportedly partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
Speculation has continued for months
Hardens possible move has been the subject of speculation and rumour for several months now. The player, who is a perennial MVP contender in the NBA, has been strongly linked with a move to the Brooklyn Nets. Once there, it was apparently his desire to help build a ‘super team’ with Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Houston coach Stephen Silas, in his first NBA head coach job, described Harden as a “holdout” after the player missed training on Sunday. He acknowledged the difficulties around the situation, admitting: “It is a setback. You want your best player to be here.”
Harden was the 2018 NBA MVP and has been an All-Star eight times. He has also earned six All-NBA First Team honors.
Silas was equivocal on what, if any, punishment might be in store for Harden when he does at last reach the Houston training camp. Silas said: “I’ve been in situations before where it was a holdout, and we just kind of handled each individual situation on its own merit and individually. As far as any sort of punishment, we haven’t even crossed that bridge yet. We’re just trying to work piece by piece.”
No discussions between Sixers and Rockets
The reports indicate that the Sixers and the Rockets have not yet had any meaningful discussions about a possible Harden deal. Daryl Morey, who was Rockets general manager for 13 years before becoming Philadelphia’s new president of basketball operations, has asserted that he has no intentions of breaking up his team’s All-Star duo of center Joel Embiid and guard/forward Ben Simmons.
Acquiring Harden is problematic for most other NBA teams. Few teams would want to expend the resources necessary to acquire Harden as the player can opt out of his contract after the 2020/21 season. Teams would want further assurances that Harden would remain with them, and few of the other franchises in the NBA actually have the combination of assets required to tempt Houston into a deal.
The Rockets are reportedly seeking a deal that would include a clutch of first-round draft picks and/or talented rookies, as well as a that includes a young established player. They are apparently refusing to budge on this, and are prepared to ride out any discomfort that Harden’s stance may create.