The Houston Rockets might beat themselves before they beat an opponent. Tensions have boiled over in Houston, where James Harden has reportedly gotten into multiple confrontations in practice, one of which involved Harden throwing a basketball at a teammate, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
That incident took place Monday. Harden reportedly threw a basketball at rookie Jae’Sean Tate after a heated exchange. The ball did not hit Tate. Harden also reportedly got into verbal confrontations with teammates Sunday.
While some infighting is expected among every NBA team during the season, the Rockets’ situation is surprising because Harden is known as a laid-back guy, according to Charania.
Interactions like these between teammates during practice can be part of a normal, competitive environment. Harden, however, is known by those in the organization as a laid-back and calm personality — especially as superstars go — and some around the franchise are viewing this as rising to an uncharacteristic level of frustration given his ongoing situation.
Harden’s frustration may stem from his offseason trade request. Harden has made it known he wants to play for a contender, but the Rockets have not found a suitable offer. Harden may have further alienated teammates when he did not report to Rockets’ camp on time. Instead of quarantining in preparation for practice, Harden attended rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party, where no one was wearing masks. Harden also reportedly spent time at a strip club while away from the team.
Rockets set to open season Wednesday against Thunder
Whether the Rockets’ drama will extend to regular-season games remains to be seen. While Harden — and others — have been on edge during practices, Harden is reportedly “engaged and encouraging with teammates on game nights,” according to Charania.
That will be tested when the Rockets open the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. Even if the Rockets stay composed during that contest, things could escalate during the team’s first losing streak.
As long as Harden wants out, the tension surrounding the team isn’t going to go away.
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