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#pounditMonday, April 12, 2021

James Harden

James Harden has ominous comment about his Rockets future

James Harden

James Harden shared an ominous comment about his future with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.

The Rockets lost 117-100 at home to the Los Angeles Lakers to fall to 3-6 on the season. Harden has not seemed to have motivation and dedication to the team all season.

After the loss, Harden said he didn’t think the situation in Houston could be fixed.

Here’s how it sounded:

Harden arrived in Houston in 2012-2013 and led the team to the playoffs eight straight years. He became an MVP and scoring champ during that period, though he has had postseason struggles.

The Rockets got rid of Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey over the offseason, and Harden took his sweet time reporting to the team. It’s been clear for over a month that he doesn’t want to be there. The team has been stubborn about the situation, but he is making it clear where he stands.

Here are the teams Harden reportedly is open to being traded.

Rockets reportedly believe they can keep James Harden through season

James Harden

The Houston Rockets do not appear to be actively exploring trade possibilities for James Harden, and there has been talk for quite some time that they would prefer to keep the former MVP. Apparently they feel they can do that until at least next offseason.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported on Monday that executives around the NBA believe the Rockets are growing increasingly confident that Harden will be content to remain in Houston at least through the remainder of the season.

While Harden still would prefer to be traded, he said Saturday that the Rockets “have a chance to do something special” if they can continue to build chemistry. Houston is off to a 3-5 start, but John Wall appears to have returned to his pre-injury form. O’Connor also notes that Harden and Christian Wood are enjoying great success in Stephen Silas’ pick-and-roll offense.

The Rockets have supposedly placed an unrealistically high price tag on Harden. That is the main reason he hasn’t been traded, but they have likely done that because they have no real desire to move him.

Harde, who is averaging 26.0 points and 11.0 assists per game through the early part of the season, recently added two more teams to his preferred trade destinations. It’s possible he could turn up the pressure on the Rockets closer to the March 25 trade deadline, but Houston is hoping the team has made enough progress between now and then to make Harden want to stick around.

Rockets legend caught on hot mic dissing James Harden

James Harden

James Harden may be staying with the Houston Rockets for now, but that does not mean that he is back in everyone’s good graces just yet.

The Rockets fell to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday by the final of 111-104. After the game, franchise legend Calvin Murphy, who is now an analyst for the team, discussed Harden’s performance. After the segment was over and the broadcast cut away from the studio, Murphy dissed Harden, unaware that his mic was still on.

“He quit,” Murphy very audibly said about the former MVP Harden.

Harden scored a season-low 15 points against the Pacers (though he did add 12 assists). He was also held to just four points in the fourth quarter.

As for the Hall of Famer Murphy, who is 72 years old, he is a Rockets lifer. He played his entire 13-season NBA career with the team and has since gone on to work for them in various capacities, including as an assistant coach in the 1990s and now as an analyst.

We have not heard very flattering things about Harden in recent weeks, and Murphy’s comments may sum up the general sentiment in Houston about Harden right now.

Mike D’Antoni talked Nets out of James Harden trade?

Mike D'Antoni

Mike D’Antoni coached James Harden in Houston for the last four seasons, and that may have been plenty enough for him.

In an episode of his podcast this week, Bill Simmons of The Ringer hinted that D’Antoni, now an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets, may have talked the team out of trading for the former MVP Harden.

“I heard Brooklyn cooled off on Harden,” said Simmons. “I think one reason was D’Antoni. He was kinda like, ‘We’re good. Keep what you have. I think he [Harden] presents some problems.'”

Harden had been linked heavily to the Nets in past weeks, having reportedly had Brooklyn at the top of his list of possible trade destinations. Talks seem to have died down since then however. Nets trade asset Spencer Dinwiddie is also now out with a partly torn ACL, all but ruling out a deal for Harden.

The Harden-D’Antoni Rockets came close to winning an NBA title together a couple of times. But with the recent reports we heard about how the Rockets have operated in the Harden era, D’Antoni’s hesitance is understandable.

H/T NBA Reddit

Daryl Morey fined $50K for sending this tweet about James Harden

Daryl Morey

The NBA has once again shown that it takes its anti-tampering rules very seriously, and this time it is Philadelphia 76ers executive Daryl Morey who has to pay the price.

Morey has been fined $50K for a social media post he made about Houston Rockets star James Harden, the NBA announced on Monday. The fine stems from a tweet Morey sent on Dec. 20 that was actually a “memory” of an old tweet congratulating Harden for breaking the Rockets’ all-time franchise assist record. You can see the tweet below:

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the tweet was only live for a few minutes before Morey deleted it. The former Houston GM told NBA officials that the tweet came from an automated app.

The fine may seem ridiculous, but it is hardly a surprise. Draymond Green was fined the same amount recently for some seemingly innocent comments he made about a fellow NBA star.

Morey has a close relationship from Harden from when the two worked together in Houston. There have been rumblings that the two could reunite in Philly, which may have also contributed to the decision to fine Morey.

Report: NBA team hired private investigator for James Harden

James Harden

One prospective suitor for James Harden appears to be taking the intel process very seriously.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported on Wednesday that a team hired a private investigator to conduct a background check on Harden. Bontemps cited an unnamed executive from that team, who added that they were treating the process of gathering info on the former MVP as they would a draft prospect.

The disgruntled Houston Rockets star Harden continues to cause headaches with his behavior off the court. The NBA just fined him for violating safety protocols by attending an unapproved gathering without a mask.

Regardless, Harden’s list of potential trade destinations continues to grow. Interested parties may not necessarily be put off by Harden’s mischief. But it does sounds like they want to know exactly what they are getting into before pulling the trigger on a possible trade.

Report: James Harden adds two teams to preferred trade destinations

James Harden

James Harden is still desperate to leave Houston, and is once again expanding his list of preferred trade destinations to try to make something happen.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Harden has added the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers to his list of preferred landing spots. They join Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Miami, and Milwaukee as teams Harden has named as his preferences. There is no indication significant progress has been made with the Celtics or Trail Blazers on any deal.

The Rockets remain slow to make any progress with teams on Harden’s trade list. Most are unwilling to launch a pursuit, and those that are simply have not put together a package good enough to entice the Rockets yet. Houston is not bound by Harden’s preferences, as he has little leverage here. Doing so would simply be an act of making the process as smooth as possible for all involved.

At the very least, this is a signal that Harden hasn’t let up on his trade demands despite the other issues he’s created for himself.

Here is how much money James Harden stands to lose over protocol violation

James Harden

James Harden was fined $50,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocol. He stands to potentially lose even more money for the violation.

The Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder game scheduled for Wednesday was postponed because the Rockets would not have had the requisite eight players needed for a game. Several Rockets players would have missed Wednesday’s game due to either inconclusive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing.

Harden reportedly attended a party at a strip club on Monday night without a mask on, though he denied the accusation. That is the violation he committed.

The NBA is still working with medical personnel on how long Harden must quarantine before being allowed to return to the Rockets. He would not be paid for any games he misses during that quarantine period. Harden would lose $284,517 for each game he misses.

Over the next 10 days, Houston has games scheduled on:
– Dec. 26 at Portland
– Dec. 28 at Denver
– Dec. 31 vs. Sacramento
– Jan. 2 vs. Sacramento

When Lou Williams was forced into quarantine over his violation in the bubble, the period lasted 10 days. If Harden has to quarantine for the next 10 days, he would miss four games. Add in the $50,000 fine, and he would be looking at a loss of $1,188,068. If he missed two games it would be just over $619,000, and three games would be $903,551. That’s not nothing, even for a millionaire.

James Harden violated NBA protocols ahead of Rockets postponement

James Harden

The Houston Rockets’ opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder has been postponed, and James Harden had a part to play in that.

The NBA announced that the Rockets game has been postponed, as the team would not have been able to dress the league-required eight players in order to play. In a statement, the league said that three Rockets players have returned either positive or inconclusive COVID-19 tests. Four other players were forced to quarantine as a result of those tests. In addition, Harden is singled out for having violated the league’s health and safety protocols.

Harden’s violation is likely tied to what he says was a dinner he attended to celebrate a friend’s promotion. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported earlier Wednesday that Harden told league investigators he believed he had been in compliance with the protocols, but the NBA clearly did not see it that way.

We know the identity of a handful of players who would not have played had the game gone ahead. With eight players ineligible to play for various reasons, however, the NBA had no choice here. It’s not what they would have wanted on the second night of the NBA regular season.

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

Several Rockets players to miss season opener due to COVID-19 tracing

John Wall

The Houston Rockets are set to open their season on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they are expected to be without several key players.

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly some other Rockets players will not play against OKC due to COVID-19 contact tracing, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. While James Harden’s status is not yet clear, many are wondering if he is the root of the problem.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the issue is a Rockets player tested positive for the coronavirus. That player is not Wall, but Wall was among several players who were sent home after being deemed close contacts. The player is being tested again to confirm the initial positive COVID-19 result.

Harden had COVID-19 over the summer, which is why he was late to the Orlando bubble.

Harden was captured on video this week partying at what was initially believed to be a strip club. The video was reportedly from Monday night. Harden addressed the incident on his Instagram story Wednesday, saying he was not at a strip club but did attend an event for a friend who was celebrating a job promotion.

Strip club or not, Harden may have violated the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, which prohibit players from going to bars, lounges, clubs or social events with more than 15 people. He also was not wearing a mask.

This obviously is not the start to the 2020-21 season the Rockets were hoping for. They have had to deal with the Harden drama for weeks now, and it sounds like things are getting tense between the former MVP and his teammates. Houston’s season may be doomed from the start.