James Harden has no intention of admitting to unprofessional behaviour, judging by his responses to the media.
The 3-time scoring champion was spotted partying with Lil Baby in Atlanta and Las Vegas. This wasn’t during offseason, this was in early December. Teams had already begun their preseason training camps. Harden showed up late to the Rockets’ program.
Many believed at the time that it was a power move by the Beard to force a move from Houston. However, there was no substantial news of bids coming in for the 2018 MVP. The Rockets evidently wanted an asking price too high for prospective suitors.
Harden featured in the Rockets’ preseason win over the Spurs on 15th. In 20-odd minutes of action, James had 12 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. The team cantered to a 112-98 win over a team with inferior talent.
James Harden responds to media accusations of unprofessional behaviour coolly
With so much speculation rife about his future in Houston, reporters queued up to ask him questions in his first press conference. Harden was as obtuse as anyone could be in his situation, refusing to humor journalists looking for a scoop.
He categorically denied any wrongdoing in reporting late for the Rockets’ training camp, saying he was ‘just training’. When pressed about why he did that in Vegas and Atlanta, he explained it was because he’d hired ‘personal trainers’.
James Harden on what he was doing in Atlanta in Vegas during training camp:
“I was just training.”
“The start of the NBA season.”
Why in Atlanta and Vegas instead of Houston?
“My personal trainers.”
— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) December 16, 2020
In all probability, the Rockets’ front office is shopping their franchise player right now. Harden seems to have maxxed out his potential with the Rockets. It may be time for him to seek an NBA title somewhere else.