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Report: Backups were beating starters, talking trash when James Harden threw ball at teammate

Rockets star James Harden

HOUSTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 17: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the second half of a game nio Spurs at the Toyota Center on December 17, 2020 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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Jimmy Butler, trying to force a trade, famously led the third-stringers over the starters at a 2018 Timberwolves practice.

James Harden, who wants the Rockets to trade him, seemingly followed the practice-intensity precedent. He reportedly threw a ball at Houston rookie Jae’Sean Tate during one of multiple arguments in the last week.

Except the context was completely different.

Sam Amick and Kelly Iko of The Athletic:

Sources say the root of Harden’s exchanges was the nature of an intrasquad scrimmage during Monday’s practice. A source says the second unit — which included Tate and backup center DeMarcus Cousins — were outplaying the starters. According to a source, at one point, Tate scored a tough basket on Harden and let him know about it, which prompted the exchange.

Someone is trying to make Harden look bad – and succeeding.