James Harden in ‘catch-up mode’ with Houston Rockets after temporary holdout

Houston Rockets star James Harden didn’t instantly reply questions on his need to be traded throughout his first media availability since his temporary holdout initially of coaching camp.

“Proper now, I am simply centered on being right here,” Harden stated Wednesday, a day after taking part in 21 minutes in a preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs. “In the present day was good. Yesterday felt actually good being on the market for the primary time because the bubble. I have never actually had the chance to do a variety of 5-on-5 work, however for my first time being on the market, it felt fairly good.”

Harden, a perennial All-Star who sources have stated has requested to be traded to a choose listing of contenders that features the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, was not cleared to follow till Monday due to his late arrival at coaching camp.

Harden traveled to Atlanta for rapper Lil Child’s birthday celebration after which to Las Vegas, the place he socialized in golf equipment, in the course of the interval when NBA gamers have been required to bear each day coronavirus assessments and take part in particular person exercises at group services and self-quarantine aside from important actions.

“I used to be simply coaching,” Harden stated when requested the purpose he was making an attempt to get throughout making these journeys as an alternative of reporting to coaching camp on time.

Requested what he was coaching for, Harden stated, “The beginning of the NBA season.” He stated he labored with “my private trainers” on the journey.

Harden didn’t report back to Houston till Dec. 8 — two days after the Rockets started group practices. He missed the Rockets’ first two preseason video games, and he acknowledged that he’s “in catch-up mode” with sport conditioning and studying first-year Houston coach Stephen Silas’ methods.

“I can solely concentrate on proper now, and for me, the perfect James Harden is ensuring I am in form,” Harden stated. “Like I stated, I hadn’t even had a chance to play 5-on-5. Particular person exercises, whenever you do particular person basketball coaching, is nice, however as each NBA participant can agree, there’s nothing like 5-on-5 coaching, the physicality, making reads and issues like that. Yesterday for my first time being on the market, I felt good, and that is thrilling.”

Harden’s commerce request is the elephant within the locker room that the Rockets are declining to debate, each within the media and with the longtime face of the franchise.

“Since I have been right here, nothing has been stated about it,” Harden stated. “All people within the locker room and the teaching workers has been centered on ramping up and getting ready for the season. That is all that issues.”

That has been an intentional method Rockets coaches and teammates, who’ve collectively vowed to concentrate on basketball amid the potential distractions of Harden’s saga.

“I do not attempt to ask him about that as a result of that is his private enterprise,” stated level guard John Wall, a former All-Star who was lately traded from the Washington Wizards together with a protected future first-round decide for Russell Westbrook. “All I fear about is what we will do to make this Rockets group the perfect that we could be whereas everyone is right here and transfer ahead with that.”

DeMarcus Cousins, the previous All-Star middle who, like Wall, is making an attempt to make a comeback with the Rockets after a number of critical accidents, expressed the same sentiment.

“On the finish of the day, it is a enterprise,” Cousins stated. “You’ll be able to solely respect a man for doing no matter he really feel is finest for him, his private life and his profession. So, no, actually, I have never [tried to convince Harden to commit to the Rockets], and I do not actually really feel like that is my place. That is a call he has to make for himself.

“My job is to, whereas we’re on the ground and whereas we’re in follow, to be holding everyone accountable. We’ll are available in and work every single day and attempt to get higher every single day. I management what I can management. For the blokes that is on the ground, we will go to warfare.”

Harden was complimentary of Silas, a longtime NBA assistant who was most lately the Dallas Mavericks’ offensive coordinator, however that they had nearly no communication till this week. Their conversations have centered on basketball technique.

“If we precisely knew form of the place his head was at, I feel it will be good for everyone,” Silas stated. “However we’re coping with actuality, which is issues change on a day-to-day foundation, issues change on a game-to-game foundation. As I stated earlier than, my job is to teach this basketball group and ensure these guys are put in the fitting positions. A part of that’s the spirit of the group, and I feel the spirit of the group, particularly primarily based on the sport final night time, is fairly good.”

Silas has stated a number of occasions that he’ll concentrate on teaching and let the entrance workplace take care of personnel choices, similar to doubtlessly buying and selling Harden.

Requested if he had belief in lately promoted normal supervisor Rafael Stone, Harden supplied a non-answer: “We have not had a dialog.”

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