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James Harden misses first Houston practice, but John Wall ‘for sure’ expects Harden to stay

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson break down the John Wall-Russell Westbrook blockbuster, and whether they think it moves the needle for either Houston or Washington next season.

UPDATE: James Harden did not end up taking part in an individual workout in Houston Sunday night, but is expected to join the team “soon.” When he returns he still must go through several days of coronavirus protocols and will not practice with the team until that is complete.


James Harden was scheduled to go through an individual workout at the Houston practice facility Sunday evening, but he had not yet cleared the league’s protocol to take part in the team’s first practice, according to Houston coach Stephen Silas (who said he has not spoken to Harden).

While trade rumors swirled around the former MVP, what caused him to be miss a day in Houston (and restart the coronavirus protocol) was reportedly being in Atlanta for rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party.

John Wall, just traded to Houston for Russell Westbrook, said he had a “great talk” with Harden and “for sure” expects him to be in Houston for the season, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve been on the same page since I’ve been traded here.”

Nobody should be sure Harden will be a Rocket past the trade deadline. Houston reportedly has realized it needs to move on from Harden, but right now the offers are lowball and the Rockets want a motherload in return for The Beard — an elite young player plus multiple first-round picks and pick swaps. Those offers could pick up as the league moves toward the trade deadline.

How will Wall and Harden fit together for as long as they play together? Peak Wall would be a better fit next to Harden than Westbrook: Wall is a decent spot-up shooter, both on catch-and-shoots and from three if he gets his feet set (Wall is no knockdown shooter, but he’s better than Westbrook). Wall also can get to the rim and is a much better defender than Westbrook.

The risk with Wall is injuries — he has not played in an NBA game in two years coming off a major knee injury and a torn Achilles. Nobody is sure what he has left in the tank (Westbrook, on the other hand, had an All-NBA season last ear).

Houston will feature a lot of Harden in isolation this season, of course. However, with Wall at the point and traditional centers Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins — and a new coach in Stephen Silas — the Rockets may look a little more traditional, but they could be dangerous. Where they slot into a loaded Western Conference will be something to watch.