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Report: James Harden arguing with Rockets teammates, threw ball at one

Rockets star James Harden

HOUSTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 17: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets warms up prior to facing the San Antonio 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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James Harden – still on the Rockets despite his trade request – reportedly told Houston management he’d be professional and engaged upon joining the team.

Which was tough to trust considering he’d already missed the beginning of training camp while seen partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Once with the Rockets, Harden said his stops in Atlanta and Las Vegas were about training for the NBA season. It apparently isn’t going much better behind the scenes.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The Athletic learned that Harden has had multiple verbal confrontations with teammates in practice on Sunday and Monday, and one confrontation included Harden throwing a basketball at a teammate on Monday.

Sources say Harden and rookie Jae’Sean Tate had a heated exchange during Monday’s practice, culminating in Harden throwing the ball in Tate’s direction. The ball did not hit Tate. 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.

I appreciate the context. An incident like this could easily be overblown. But it stands out for Harden, who’s known for his lax intensity toward practice.

Playing with ball-dominant, defensively indifferent Harden is challenging in the best of times. It seems especially miserable now.

Jimmy Butler, with the Timberwolves just showed the playbook for forcing a move when an offseason trade request went unmet. Harden has a different temperament than Butler, so don’t expect the exact same tactics. But Butler’s approach worked and might be somewhat getting emulated here.