Houston Rockets star James Harden participated in practice for the first time after reporting to training camp late.
Harden had to register six consecutive negative tests for COVID-19 prior to taking the floor with his teammates. But he was active on Monday, and head coach Stephen Silas said both The Beard and P.J. Tucker were “very good,” per The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani.
Harden will play in the team’s third preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.
These would be encouraging signs if not for the fact Harden reportedly still has no interest in being a Rocket this year, even after the acquisition of John Wall.
Wall stated Sunday he would love the opportunity to play with Harden:
“I think me and James can be a heck of a combination,” Wall said, via ESPN. “I just hope we get the opportunity to get into the regular season and see how it goes.”
However, Harden still desires a fresh start. Might that change with Harden now resuming basketball activities? Silas revealed his recent conversation with Harden about his future:
Silas: "We talked basketball. I’m a basketball coach, and he’s a basketball player. We talked hoop today. As far as his commitment to what we’re doing basketball-wise, he was right there. As far as the rumors … that’s another question you’ll have to ask of him."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 14, 2020
Harden reportedly plans to be professional during this time, and Houston should be pretty good if he plays. Wall displayed some explosiveness in the team’s first two preseason games against the Chicago Bulls over the weekend. The Rockets also boast a talented and athletic big in Christian Wood, and they signed DeMarcus Cousins as well. As for Silas, he was previously an assistant for the most efficient scoring team (the Dallas Mavericks) in basketball last season.
It is possible Harden decides he can in fact win in Houston with this team and this staff, though he seems entrenched in the mindset of leaving H-Town.
However, Harden will be on the floor Tuesday night, and plenty of eyes will assuredly be on him as this saga continues to unfold.