Training camp has begun around the NBA and while some players are not yet with their teams due to positive COVID-19 tests or being in isolation as a close contact to someone who has tested positive, for the most part, teams are fully aware of the whereabouts of their players — who were told to be in-market for testing by the end of November.
However, in Houston, quite the scene is unfolding as the Rockets begin camp with a new star face in John Wall but the absence of their cornerstone in James Harden. The superstar guard has been missing from camp, only popping up on workout videos and Instagram stories from various clubs in recent days, despite the expectation from the team that, while he may miss some time from team workouts he would begin individual work late last week. Instead, the former MVP has remained absent as he has made his stance clear that he wants to be traded to Brooklyn, with the Rockets understandably saying they are willing to go into this season as is.
The hope was that trading Russell Westbrook for John Wall would encourage Harden to show up and play out this season, at least until a deal can be worked out, but he seems insistent on continuing to apply pressure to trade him by making it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to be there by, well, not being there. The result is poor new coach Stephen Silas having to answer questions about Harden on a daily basis, and on Monday, admitted the team still is unsure when he’ll arrive at the facility and noted this was, at this point, a setback.
Rockets head coach Stephen Silas says he doesn’t know whether or not if James Harden is in Houston. “As far as timetable (for Harden’s arrival to training camp) there is no timetable and it is a setback.”
— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) December 7, 2020
Stephen Silas on James Harden: "He's not here, and he has a reason, but that's on him to tell whoever what the reason is."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 7, 2020
It’s not just Silas being asked about Harden, as P.J. Tucker arrived at Rockets camp on Monday and, well, he wasn’t too keen on answering any questions about his star teammate.
Someone else just tried it again, got the same answer. PJ is not here for your Harden questions. pic.twitter.com/0I2761RTe1
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) December 7, 2020
As you can see, things are going well in Houston and Harden is clearly testing the team’s willingness to be uncomfortable, as they stated they were happy to let happen in order to drag this trade request into the season. One would expect Harden to, at some point, arrive to camp if this continues, but when that is remains a mystery to us all, including the Houston Rockets staff and players.