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James Harden still hasn't shown up to Rockets training camp, coach says there's 'no timetable'

Liz Roscher
·3 min read
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Houston Rockets star James Harden still hasn’t reported to training camp, and things are starting to get really awkward.

Harden was supposed to be with the team on Sunday when training camp started, but he wasn’t. He also wasn’t there on Monday, and new head coach Stephen Silas didn’t have a lot of concrete information to share. What information he did share wasn’t great.

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So Harden hasn’t shown up and no one knows when he will. He has a reason, but thus far he hasn’t told the media. Silas considers it a setback and even referred to it as a holdout. None of this is good news.

Harden hasn’t disappeared off the face of the Earth. According to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, he’s been in Atlanta and Las Vegas celebrating the birthday of his good friend and rapper Lil Baby. Harden’s Instagram shows him partying without a mask around tons of other maskless people, all of which is a violation of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols.

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What happens now?

The official reason behind Harden’s absence is unknown, but rumors have been floating all offseason that he’s unhappy in Houston and ready to leave as soon as possible. He reportedly requested a trade in November, with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets being his preferred destinations.

If Harden’s absence is related to his unhappiness with the team, the Rockets’ move is obvious: trade him and move on. A miserable superstar won’t make contending any easier. Russell Westbrook has already been shipped out of town, and look at how happy he is to be on the Washington Wizards. He looks positively giddy.

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Westbrook tweeted that about an hour after Silas spoke to the media about Harden’s absence, which is an incredible troll move.

In combination, all the offseason rumors, the Westbrook trade, and the events of the last few days make it seem like a divorce between Harden and the Rockets is inevitable. That being said, if the team decides it absolutely doesn’t want to trade him — and beyond Harden’s desire to be traded, they have absolutely no reason to do so — there’s not much Harden can do. Holding out would mean an escalating series of fines and the docking of his game checks.

But maybe that’s something Harden would be willing to endure. This tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni might explain why.

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If the Rockets are the “Knicks of the South,” wouldn’t you try to escape that at any cost?

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: James Harden and Lil Baby attend Lil Baby's Ice Ball on December 3, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)
James Harden has been celebrating the birthday of close friend and rapper Lil Baby for the past several days instead of heading to Houston for Rockets training camp. (Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)

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