HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- James Harden was absent from the Rockets first training camp practice, head coach Stephen Silas said on Sunday.
“Due to the NBA protocol he is not able to practice with the rest of the team,” Silas said. “We’re expecting him for an individual workout sometime this evening.”
Silas said on Thursday that he expected Harden to take part in Sunday’s practice, but TMZ posted video of Harden in Atlanta on Thursday night, celebrating rapper Lil Baby’s birthday. The Rockets guard was show amongst a crowd of people and none were wearing masks.
The Rockets coach said the NBA’s rules had to do with his absence on Sunday, but didn’t elaborate further. The NBA required players to return to their home markets last week to begin daily COVID-19 testing. Players are then expected to self-quarantine at home when not at their team facility unless taking part in essential activities.
Harden has been seen working out at the University of Houston, but leaving for Atlanta would fall outside those protocols. A source told SportsRadio 610 Harden returned to Houston on Friday, but Silas says he doesn’t know when he’ll be allowed to practice with his teammates.
“I’m not sure what hoops he has to jump through in order to practice with the team. He’s been following the protocol, as far as I know, but I haven’t had communication with (the NBA).”
The 2018 NBA MVP has reportedly asked the Rockets for a trade and he recently turned down a two-year, $103 million contract extension, but the team has thus far refused to grant that request, and Silas reiterated the team’s stance.
“I want him here, and I want him to be a big part of what we’re doing, and I’m excited to coach him and have him be a part of what we just had out there with a good practice with a bunch of guys who are working hard on both ends of the floor and had a good vibe about them.”
Harden was expected to take part in an individual workout out Sunday night, but he wasn’t the only Rocket to miss Sunday’s practice. Silas said P.J. Tucker was also absent, but did not provide a reason why.