Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
As former Washington Wizards guard John Wall gets to know his new teammates, he expects that James Harden will be among them, amid rumors that the Houston Rockets star wants to move on from the team he has played with since 2012.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Sunday that Wall and Harden have talked, and the team’s newest acquisition “for sure” expects to play alongside Harden this season.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in November that Harden turned down a two-year, $103 million extension—the maximum allowed—because “he’s singularly focused” on being traded to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets.
Per Stein, Harden was absent from individual workouts Thursday, but head coach Stephen Silas said he was “confident” that the guard would be in attendance for the team’s first official practice on Sunday. But Stein reported Sunday that Harden wasn’t able to join the team because of the league’s COVID-19 protocols but would participate in an individual workout Sunday night.
When Harden didn’t show, Silas declined to speak on the star’s dedication to his future in Houston.
“That’s a question you’re going to have to ask him when he gets here,” Silas said, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
The league required players to return to their home markets by either Nov. 28 or Nov. 30 in order to begin COVID-19 protocols, which included daily testing and self-quarantining—with the exception of heading to the team facility for testing or individual workouts, or performing “essential activities,” which Stein said included grocery shopping and bringing children to school.
Instead, Harden was in Atlanta, where he attended a birthday party for rapper Lil Baby. In an Instagram post, Lil Baby shared that Harden gifted him a Prada bag filled with $100,000 and honey buns.
Silas said, via Stein, that he wants Harden “to be a big part of what we’re doing” in Houston, but so far this offseason, it doesn’t appear that Harden is interested in doing the same.