James Harden is back in Houston. The “punishment” the NBA levied upon him for breaking their COVID protocols 24 hours after they started to take effect is that he has to produce 6 consecutive negative COVID tests before joining the team. Some punishment.
After those six days, it’s expected Harden will join the team in their training facility and start preparing for the upcoming season. We’ll see about that. Given the lack of discipline the NBA enforced after Harden partied around Atlanta and Las Vegas with no mask, why would he fear further discipline? A lot of beat writers point out Houston contributed to this mess by spoiling Harden rotten. Here’s ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
James Harden has had the right to say who comes and goes in Houston, essentially for the whole time he’s there. He wanted Dwight Howard, and then he wanted Dwight Howard gone. Chris Paul, and then Chris Paul gone. Russell Westbrook, and then Russell Westbrook gone. He wanted McHale out, McHale was gone. We can go on down the list.Tim MacMahon, The Hoop Collective
All superstars get a say in major personnel moves, that’s no news nor is Harden special in that regard. The difference is they have input, sometimes major input; in Houston, it appears Harden’s wish was their command. When LeBron was with the Heat, he wanted the team to spend the night in Cleveland after a game with the Cavs. That wasn’t in the itinerary, but he was pulling his superstar card. Erik Spoelstra called Riley who told Spo he’s the coach and that he can let everyone know they are expected to make the flight.
He had the right to say what the travel schedule is going to be, he determined the practice schedule. Got a couple days off? Well James wants to go to Vegas, so you’re not going to practice that day. Coming back from the All-Star break, first practice is voluntary because James needs to cool his heels a little bit in Vegas. The first time the Rockets ever told James Harden no is “No, we are not going to send you to Brooklyn.” Their culture was, whatever whim Harden had was their culture. I was talking to a former Rockets staffer yesterday and he said “Yeah he’s going to act up, he’s never heard ‘no’ before.”Tim MacMahon, The Hoop Collective
The one guy everyone feels sorry for is Stephen Silas. An NBA lifer, Silas went through all the steps to earn his chance. He was an assistant for 20 years, starting with the Hornets in 2000 and lastly designing the Mavericks offense for the past two seasons. Harden wanted Ty Lue as the next coach in Houston. Tilman Fertitta wanted Jeff Van Gundy. Silas turned out to be a compromise solution. After the Rockets hired him, and Harden didn’t get what he wanted, he requested a trade.
“James Harden wanted out of Houston as soon as the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as coach.”Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today
So technically, this would be the first time Harden got a “no” of sorts and not the Brooklyn deal. Just saying.