Over the last several weeks, James Harden has created a media circus around the Houston Rockets. Harden’s desire for a trade has further murky the Rockets’ future while damaging his public image. The star guard continues to make matters worse after his first comments to the media since rejoining the team.
Trouble still brewing in Houston
The Rockets have struggled to navigate the waters through the lingering situation concerning James Harden’s future.
The former league MVP has grown increasingly disgruntled with the franchise that led to a trade demand. The matter continues to spiral out of control, contributing significantly to several notable changes in Houston.
The timeline includes longtime general manager Daryl Morey stepping down, Mike D’Antoni electing not to pick up the final year of his contract, and Russell Westbrook shipped off to the Washington Wizards. Harden has added to the drama with his first comments to the media since returning to the team.
James Harden breaks his media silence with puzzling comments
James Harden has returned to the fold with the Rockets after his widely-covered whereabouts over the last several days.
Following his preseason debut on Tuesday night, Harden elected not to speak to the media. The former league MVP couldn’t avoid that route on Wednesday breaking his media silence by answering questions concerning his Rockets’ future. (H/T ESPN)
“Right now, I’m just focused on being here,” Harden said Wednesday, a day after playing 21 minutes in a preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs. “Today was good. Yesterday felt really good being out there for the first time since the bubble. I haven’t really had the opportunity to do a lot of 5-on-5 work, but for my first time being out there, it felt pretty good.”
Harden wants to avoid any lingering conversation around his recent absence. However, he couldn’t avoid questions about his decisions to go to Atlanta and Las Vegas instead of joining the team in training camp, which he responded that he was “training” in those locations with his personal trainers.
His answer lacked any responsibility for his actions while brushing aside that he didn’t report to the team until the third day of training camp. Harden’s late arrival forced him to miss the first two preseason games and put him further behind schedule in learning new head coach Stephen Silas’ offensive system.
An end in sight in Houston?
James Harden’s first comments since returning to the Rockets make it quite clear where he stands; he wants out.
Not only do his words speak loud, but his actions further cement that stance. The 31-year-old chose to take trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas instead of joining the team in training camp.
He may be back in the fold, but it’s a ticking timebomb situation. Harden is under contract through the 2022-23 season, with an option to opt-out of the final year. However, it’s hard to believe he will come anywhere near finishing it out in Houston.
The Rockets have publicly voiced their desire to keep Harden, but their true intentions are likely behind the scenes. His tenure has run its course and the franchise will take their time in finding the best deal for their long-term future.
Reports have already surfaced that a deal before the trade deadline next season seems unlikely, but all it takes is one team to present a lucrative offer. Ultimately, the Rockets have complete control of the matter moving forward toward the eventual resolution.