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#pounditTuesday, March 2, 2021

James Harden

James Harden issues response to supposed strip club video

James Harden

James Harden says he was not at a strip club this week when a video surfaced that appeared to show him partying without a mask on. However, the Houston Rockets star may still be ineligible to play in Wednesday night’s season opener.

A video that was obtained by Black Sports Online this week claimed to show Harden partying without a mask on at a strip club on Monday night. Harden issued a response on his Instagram story on Wednesday. He said he was not at a strip club but attended an event “to show love to my homegirl” who was recently promoted.

“Everyday it’s something different,” Harden wrote. “No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real always end on top.”

Harden was obviously unhappy with the assertion that he was partying at a strip club, but that may not matter to the NBA. The Rockets have been working with the NBA to determine if Harden violated COVID-19 protocol. As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon notes, NBA protocols prohibit players from going to bars, lounges, clubs or social events with more than 15 people.

Harden arrived late to training camp with the Rockets earlier this month, and several photos and videos on social media showed that he was attending a rapper’s birthday partying and hitting nightclubs before he got to Houston. Harden then cleared COVID-19 protocol by testing negative several times.

The Rockets are still exploring trade options for Harden. While he is under contract for two more seasons and the team does not have to rush, it sounds like things are getting a bit tense between Harden and his teammates. The latest drama almost certainly will not help the situation.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Report: James Harden may have violated COVID-19 protocol with strip club trip

James Harden

James Harden remains with the Houston Rockets as their season gets set to tip off on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but there is a chance he may not be eligible to play in the game.

A video that was obtained by Black Sports Online this week claimed to show Harden partying without a mask on at a strip club on Monday night. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Rockets are working with the NBA league office to review the video and determine if Harden violated COVID-19 protocols.

If Harden is found to have violated NBA protocols, he may not be eligible to play on Wednesday night.

Harden arrived late to training camp with the Rockets earlier this month, and several photos and videos on social media showed that he was attending a rapper’s birthday partying and hitting nightclubs before he got to Houston. Harden then cleared COVID-19 protocols by testing negative several times.

The Rockets are still exploring trade options for Harden. While he is under contract for two more seasons and the team does not have to rush, it sounds like things are getting a bit tense between Harden and his teammates.

Charles Barkley says foolish Rockets should trade James Harden

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley believes the Houston Rockets should stop messing around and trade James Harden already.

During halftime of the season-opening game between the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors, the TNT crew talked about the Rockets’ situation. Barkley mentioned how he liked what he saw from some of the Nets’ players, like Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. He suggested the Rockets trade Harden to the Nets for some of those players.

“That’s why I don’t understand what them fools at the Rockets are doing,” Barkley said. “Give me Allen, LaVert and Dinwiddie, you got a deal.”

Barkley proceeded to call Harden a “headache.”

“They’ll be rid of the headache. So I think they should make the trade. If you put those three players with John Wall … the Rockets are just going to be dissension behavior … it’s proven they’re dysfunctional. A man is going to show up when he wants, play when he wants to, practice when he wants to. So I would do the trade.”

Harden showed up to the team’s workouts late, though he gave an explanation. There has also been talk of him showing up overweight based on this photo.

Harden isn’t talking about his desire to be traded, and the Rockets haven’t shared their plans. Expect more day-to-day drama regarding the situation until we get a resolution, which might not come any time soon.

Nuggets reportedly unwilling to part with this player in James Harden trade

James Harden

The Denver Nuggets can put together a very competitive trade package for James Harden, but one particular player is off-limits for them.

Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported on Tuesday that the Nuggets will not trade Jamal Murray in any potential deal for Harden.

Murray, 23, was a breakout star of the Orlando bubble, helping lead Denver to a surprise Western Conference Finals berth with his sharp shooting and knack for taking over in the clutch. Murray also has tremendous chemistry with Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic, the other untouchable on their roster.

The Nuggets still have some intriguing young players to offer in a Harden deal. Michael Porter Jr., Bol Bol, RJ Hampton, and PJ Dozier are all 24 or younger with varying levels of upside. Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Monte Morris are also quality rotation pieces who are still in their 20s as well.

The Harden situation in Houston seems to be worsening daily, so it seems at least plausible that Denver could get him without having to give up Murray.

Report: James Harden has had multiple practice confrontations with teammates

James Harden

James Harden has been practicing with the Houston Rockets in the wake of his trade request, but it does not sound as if it has been business as usual for the team in recent days.

Harden and his teammates have had multiple verbal confrontations in practice since Harden reported to the team on Dec. 8, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. One of those confrontations included Harden throwing a basketball at Rockets rookie Jae’Sean Tate. The two had a heated exchange that led to Harden angrily firing a basketball in Tate’s direction.

Charania notes that arguments can be part of a healthy practice environment for an NBA team, but the ones involving Harden and his teammates are not the norm. Harden is considered by most in the Rockets organization to be laid back, so many believe the recent confrontations are directly related to his frustration with the team.

Harden has two guaranteed seasons remaining on his current contract, so there is no need for the Rockets to rush any trade discussions they have had. However, a recent report indicated they would prefer to part ways with him in the very near future, and that makes sense if the work environment in Houston is becoming hostile.

The Rockets will begin their regular season with a home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. They’ll likely continue to explore trade possibilities for Harden, though at least one suitor has reportedly dropped out of the running.

This team has reportedly dropped its pursuit of a James Harden trade

James Harden

One of James Harden’s suitors is apparently moving on and setting up to play the season without him as a possible addition.

According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Miami Heat are no longer discussing possible Harden trades with the Houston Rockets. Winderman says Miami’s interest in Harden was characterized as “cursory,” and the team was simply doing its due diligence.

It doesn’t seem as though these talks ever got very far. While it was reported that the Heat had real interest, there were legitimate questions about what pieces they had to offer and whether they’d be interested enough to dangle some of their top talent as a possible return.

The news may come as a disappointment to Harden, who named the Heat as a team he’d be interested in moving to. The good news is this team still seems very interested, and that’s one of Harden’s preferences.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

James Harden refusing to answer questions about trade demand

James Harden

James Harden’s trade request has become the big story around the Houston Rockets, whether he intended it or not. Now the guard is trying to shut down the questions about his future.

Harden pushed aside all questions about his future and his current mindset. When asked if he felt better about the team since arriving at training camp, according to Ben DuBose of The Rockets Wire, Harden simply responded with “next question.”

DuBose clarified that this was essentially Harden’s stock answer to any chatter about his future or his happiness.

If Harden thinks this is going to quiet the speculation, he’s wrong. If anything, not addressing it will only allow some of the chatter and rumors to grow even further out of control. Then again, if it inspires the Rockets to trade him more quickly, perhaps that’s precisely what he wants.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Rockets want to trade James Harden before start of season?

James Harden

James Harden is under contract with the Houston Rockets for two more seasons, which means there is no reason they have to rush to trade the former NBA MVP. The team may not want the situation dragging on much longer, however.

During an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!” Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski would not rule out the Rockets trading Harden before the start of the regular season on Wednesday. He said Houston would like to move on “sooner than later.”

“Houston would like to get this done sooner than later,” Wojnarowski said. “This is a pall over the entire organization and their new head coach Stephen Silas as he tries to implement his program there. But, they’ve got to find the right deal. This is too important for their organization long-term.”

All indications have been that the Rockets have placed a massive asking price on Harden. Most teams are unwilling to meet it at this time, though the Philadelphia 76ers are apparently open to including one of their star players as part of a potential Harden deal.

NBA superstars typically get their way when they decide they want to be traded. Harden knows he would only hurt his own trade value if he goes public with his demands, but we’ve seen that happen with Anthony Davis and others. Considering he missed workouts because he was off partying around the country, we wouldn’t rule out Harden eventually turning up the heat on Houston.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

‘It’s Always Sunny’ actor has hilarious reaction to James Harden’s weight

James Harden

James Harden’s weight has become a huge talking point on social media lately. Now actor Rob McElhenney is getting in on the fun as well.

McElhenney, who plays Mac on the popular sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” reacted this week to a tweet about Harden’s seemingly unpredictable fluctuation between appearing skinny and overweight.

McElhenney hilariously referenced the various weight transformations of his own character on the show.

For a bit of context, Mac’s weight is one of the funnier plot points on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” After being very skinny in early seasons, he suddenly gained a huge amount of weight by the middle seasons (referring to it as “cultivating mass”). In more recent seasons though, Mac has now just as suddenly gotten ripped. McElhenney gained and lost all the weight himself as an intense form of method acting.

As for Harden, it is unclear if he too is cultivating mass or is just plain out of shape. Twitter had some funny reactions to his apparent weight gain, but McElhenney’s might have been the best one so far.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Report: Sixers have made Ben Simmons available in some James Harden trade talks

Ben Simmons

There appears to be a growing level of seriousness regarding trade talks involving Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Philadelphia 76ers have signaled that they are willing to include Ben Simmons in trade talks. However, the two sides have not come close to concluding a deal, and the Rockets are still seeking top young players and a pick in any trade.

The Rockets have also expanded trade talks beyond Harden’s preferred destinations of the Sixers and Brooklyn Nets. Playoff teams in both conferences have been engaged in talks, and are growing more comfortable with paying Houston’s asking price. Again, however, it does not appear that any trade is close, and the Rockets still anticipate having Harden when the regular season begins next week. That said, the Rockets are stating a willingness to move quickly on a deal if they find one they like.

As recently as earlier today, it was reported that Simmons was not on the table in Harden talks. The fact that Philadelphia is even signaling a willingness to talk about him indicates that talks have progressed at least slightly.

Harden has expanded his trade wishlist once. It seems the Rockets aren’t limiting themselves to existing preferences in the thinking they may get Harden to do that again.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0