With James Harden already becoming a distraction for the Houston Rockets before the season has even started, should the Rockets cut their ties and deal him now?
As the season starts Wednesday night for the Houston Rockets, star guard James Harden is still with the team. Between James and the Rockets’ front office, mixed feelings have been detected over the last two months. It has become a debacle since the start of training camp for the Rockets, as Harden’s recent behavior has been dreadful towards the Rockets’ organization.
Showing up a day late to training camp, not being able to wear a mask at public events and having tempers with rookie Jae’Sean Tate have caused concerns for the Rockets. Before training camp started, Harden requested a trade request because he wants to compete for a championship caliber team. The Rockets have struggled finding trade partners for Harden, which is a slight surprise.
It’s possible that someone from Harden or the Rockets’ camp leaked this information so it could frighten other NBA organizations from pursuing him. Scaring off other teams could be the idea the Rockets are shooting for so they can keep Harden.
Otherwise, Harden is really trying to force his way out of Houston by not getting along with other teammates, in addition to not being safe during a global pandemic.
Source: Rockets are working with NBA office to review video of James Harden at a strip club. If the video circulating on social media is verified to be recent, it is a violation of league's COVID protocols, which would put Harden's availability for tonight's opener in jeopardy.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 23, 2020
Harden should not take so much heat for throwing the ball at Tate because of his natural competitive spirit, as this is reminiscent of the Michael Jordan-Steve Kerr incident in the 1995-96 season during the Chicago Bulls’ training camp. Nobody criticized Jordan for punching Kerr in the face so why would Harden’s situation be treated any differently?
Are the Houston Rockets making the right decision by keeping Harden?
Granted, Jordan had three rings while Harden has accumulated zero, of course. But Harden could take a page out of Jordan’s book, as Jordan came to training camp on time and didn’t force a trade out of Chicago. Jordan cooperated with Jerry Krause, so he was able to win three more championships with the Bulls.
ESPN’s NBA Reporter Eric Woodyard recently spoke about Harden’s professionalism or lack thereof towards the Rockets, and his sentiments are likely similar to that of Rockets fans.
“I don’t think it wasn’t professional for him to be out partying without a mask on social media,” Woodyard told me. “I don’t think it was professional for him to not come to training camp on time.”
After practice on Tuesday, Rockets’ head coach Stephen Silas defended Harden’s blow-up with Tate during his media session, stating that he loves the idea of competitive practices and enjoys watching them.
“You hope to have competitive practices, and that’s what we have. I want competitors on this team,” as Silas told the press Tuesday. “For guys to be competitive in whatever way, as long as it’s not going overboard, I love it. Maybe that’s just the old school in me or the Paul Silas vibes.”
During a preseason game last week on Tuesday versus the San Antonio Spurs, Harden was extremely engaged with his teammates, including critiquing Tate in a small huddle during a timeout.
As a reminder, here's Harden coaching Jae'Sean Tate (and Danuel House Jr.) on the court last week. Again, guys at the highest level push one another. They're competitive. https://t.co/rl88Zapi6i
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) December 22, 2020
Although Harden is a superstar, the Rockets have not received the right request from other NBA teams, such as the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and the Miami Heat. It has become interesting because of the denial the Rockets have gotten for Harden. The Rockets’ GM Rafael Stone is asking for a superstar in exchange for Harden, which is understandable.
Hopefully, the Rockets’ season doesn’t turn into a chaotic debacle as they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. The Rockets will remain patient for the right trade but Harden’s value could run low, not to mention that Harden could be purposely trying to avoid suiting up with the Rockets this season.