Rockets first-year coach Stephen Silas deferred when asked about James Harden’s commitment to the franchise amid trade rumors.
Harden reportedly wants to be traded to the Nets, where he would reunite with former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and team up with Kyrie Irving.
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Talk of Harden’s future has been further amplified after Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Wizards in exchange for John Wall on Wednesday.
Harden was absent from Houston’s first practice of training camp on Sunday because of coronavirus protocols, leaving Silas to field questions regarding the 2017-18 NBA MVP.
“That’s a question you’re going to have to ask him when he gets here,” Silas said after being quizzed on the guard’s commitment.
“We’re looking forward to having him here and getting to his individual workout. That’s the word I heard from the pipeline,” Silas added. “Once he gets here, obviously the best communication for me would be face-to-face communication — not text, not phone, not anything else.
“I’m looking forward to him getting here, getting in the building, and then we can talk about what’s best. But you know, that’s kind of a work in progress right now.”
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported Sunday night that a source told him Harden will report to the team “soon.”
Source: James Harden did not return to Houston for his anticipated individual workout Sunday evening but told Rockets management he will report soon.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 7, 2020
Last season, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. That followed 53.9 points in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous — making it four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.
Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20 for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semifinals at Walt Disney World Resort.
“I’m not exactly sure what hoops he has to jump through in order to practice with the team,” Silas said.
“I would just say I want him here, and I want him to be a big part of what we’re doing,” he added. “I’m excited to coach him and have him be a part of what we just had out there with a good practice, with a bunch of guys who are working hard on both ends of the floor and had a good vibe about them.”
The Rockets will open their 2020-21 season against the Thunder on Dec. 23, following preseason clashes with the Bulls and Spurs.