Los Angeles (AFP)
Rockets star James Harden, at the center of trade demand reports as the NBA preseason heats up, said Wednesday that “for now” he was focusing on preparing for the next campaign in Houston.
Harden, who arrived late for the Rockets’ preseason training camp, spoke to reporters on Wednesday, a day after scoring 12 points with four assists on his preseason debut – the victory Houston 112-98 over the San Antonio Spurs.
“Right now, I’m focused on my presence here,” said Harden, who answered several questions about his reported business demand.
“Today was good, yesterday it was really good to be there for the first time since the bubble.
“I hadn’t really had the chance to do a lot of work five-on-five, but for the first time I’m there I think I was feeling pretty good,” MVP added of the 2018 NBA.
As the Rockets began their training camp, Harden’s absence was all the more evident as he posted photos to his Instagram account showing him celebrating rapper Lil Baby’s birthday in Atlanta.
Social media posts also showed it in Las Vegas.
Harden, the NBA’s top scorer for the past three seasons, said that all this time he was training with his personal trainer and his pre-season focus “was to make sure I’m in good shape” .
He praised new Rockets coach Stephen Silas and his handling of the many changes in Houston since the end of the 2019-20 season disrupted by the pandemic.
Since the Rockets fell in the Western Conference semifinals to eventual Los Angeles Lakers champion, the team have parted ways with coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey and traded the disgruntled playmaker Russell Westbrook at the Washington Wizards.
“There are a lot of changes,” Harden said. “Obviously, all the coaching staff, part of the front office, a lot of players. This is where we are. The coach (Silas) did an amazing job communicating with the guys and just putting the structure in place and getting things done. . ”
But Harden’s comments are unlikely to stifle speculation that he wants to leave Houston and has requested a trade at a club he deems acceptable, the Brooklyn Nets apparently at the top of his shortlist.
© 2020 AFP