James Harden absent from Rockets’ first day of practice


The Houston Rockets took the court Sunday for their first practice of the 2021-21 season, but one notable player wasn’t in attendance. Star point guard James Harden was prevented from participating due to NBA coronavirus protocols, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas told reporters.

Harden, who requested a trade earlier this offseason, attended a birthday party for rapper Lil Baby in Atlanta on Thursday, according to TMZ Sports. He also spent parts of last week working out at the University of Houston. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Rockets expected Harden to be at their facility Sunday after he skipped out on voluntary workouts last week.

When asked how committed Harden is to the Rockets’ organization, Silas told reporters they would have to wait until he arrives to find that out. Harden, meanwhile, posted an ominous Instagram story after the news broke.

According to Stein, the NBA required players to report to their respective teams’ home markets by Nov. 28-30 to begin daily coronavirus testing and start self-quarantining. Players are supposed to only break that quarantine for team-related events and “essential activities” such as grocery shopping and taking kids to school.

The Rockets have a new look this season after trading Russell Westbrook to the Wizards for John Wall and a protected first-round pick. Wall spoke to reporters Sunday for the first time since being traded and expressed that he expects Harden to be a Rocket this season.