Rockets coach Stephen Silas told reporters that Harden would not be at Wednesday’s practice, one day after the former league MVP said the team is “just not good enough” following a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We felt that it was best for the group and best for James not to come to practice,” Silas said.
The Rockets’ trade talks with the Nets and Sixers had gathered momentum in recent days — even before Harden’s comments Tuesday night, sources told Shelburne and Wojnarowski.
Harden, in what represented the closest he’s come to a public trade demand, said after Tuesday’s 117-100 loss that he doesn’t think the struggling Rockets “can be fixed” and that he has “literally have done everything that I can.”
Houston’s front office had been determined to remain patient until its asking price for Harden was met, sources told ESPN. The Rockets had informed teams that they want a young franchise cornerstone and a package of first-round draft picks and/or intriguing talent on rookie contracts in return for Harden, sources said.
Harden made it clear to owner Tilman Fertitta before the season that he did not believe in the franchise’s direction and ability to contend and preferred to be traded to a team that was in a better position to win, sources said.
Fertitta was disappointed but told Harden that he would explore the trade market on the Rockets’ timetable. He has since continually given Harden assurances that he will trade him, and empowered new general manager Rafael Stone to trade the three-time scoring champion, who has three years and $133 million with a player option for the final season remaining on his contract, when he finds a deal he likes.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.