James Harden is not happy with how things are in Houston.
He’d already communicated that fact to the Rockets before this season began, requesting a trade, but perhaps there was some hope that the situation was salvageable.
Following a 117-100 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night that dropped Houston to 3-6, Harden was unambiguous about the state of affairs on the Rockets, calling the team “just not good enough.”
"I love this city,” Harden told reporters, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."
Teammate John Wall doesn’t seem pleased either.
We’ll see how Harden’s blunt public comments affect the dynamic of this ongoing saga. ESPN reports "Houston's front office is determined to remain patient until its asking price for the 2018 NBA MVP is met."
The Sixers, of course, have been among the teams linked with the eight-time All-Star. In response to reports that the Sixers were willing to make Ben Simmons available in Harden trade discussions, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey told The Athletic’s Shams Charania, “We are not trading Ben Simmons — he’s an important part of our future.”
Simmons returned to play Tuesday after a two-game absence due to left knee swelling and had five points, six rebounds and 12 assists in the Sixers’ 137-134 overtime win over the Heat.
If the Sixers were hoping to further evaluate their roster before making high-stakes decisions related to Harden, that’s now become more difficult. After the team started 7-2, the NBA’s health and safety protocols have sidelined several key players. Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and Tobias Harris, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle are among the other Sixers out due to the league’s protocols.
The Sixers aren’t the only team severely impacted by COVID-19. The Celtics’ last three games have been postponed because the team hasn’t had the minimum of eight players available. The league has postponed six games in total and on Tuesday announced additional protocols.
The NBA’s trade deadline for the 2020-21 season is March 25.