The Rockets are James Harden’s team … so where is he? Evidently not at training camp, which began earlier this week. Harden, who reportedly wants out of Houston (Brooklyn is his preferred destination), was not at Thursday’s media availability but rookie coach Stephen Silas was, offering his thoughts on the Rockets disgruntled superstar.
“From my perspective, my communication has been, 'I'm giving you space,' and that's kind of where it's been as far as my communication with him,” shared Silas in comments transcribed by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “Guys like that need that. They need to figure it out and they don't need someone banging on them all the time to kind of figure out where they're at and whatnot.”
The Rockets remain hopeful the three-time scoring champ will eventually report for duty—the team holds its first official practice Sunday—but right now, Silas doesn’t want to force the issue. “I’m confident that he’ll be all-in,” said Silas, who was hired to replace Mike D’Antoni (now an assistant coach under Steve Nash in Brooklyn) this offseason. “That's where I'm leaving it.”
Houston shook up its roster Wednesday by trading Russell Westbrook for fellow All-Star point guard John Wall, who had spent his previous 10 seasons with Washington. While the Rockets were amenable to Westbrook’s trade request, Houston’s front office has so far balked at the idea of moving Harden, an eight-time NBA All-Star and the second-leading scorer in franchise history behind Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Even without Westbrook, the Rockets should still be competitive with Harden—assuming he resurfaces—joining newcomers Wall and DeMarcus Cousins in Houston’s revamped starting five.
Houston could revisit its stance on trading Harden if tensions persist, but at present, Silas is cautiously optimistic the former MVP will be a Rocket come opening night. “As I said, I'm giving him his space to do his thing, but I'm confident that he'll be here when we get started."