James Harden insists he is only focused on the Rockets amid reports he wants to be traded.
Eight-time All-Star Harden did little to convince anyone he wants to stay in Houston when he spoke to the media for the first time ahead of the new NBA season on Wednesday.
The start of camp is when players get comfortable working together on the court, and Harden’s rationale for being away from his team-mates when they were practicing together then collapsed upon itself.
“I haven’t got an opportunity to play five-on-five,” he said. “Individual workouts, weightlifting, individual basketball training is great, but every NBA player can agree, there’s nothing like five-on-five training, the physicality, making reads and things like that.”
Harden practiced with his team-mates for the first time on Monday and then made his preseason debut on Tuesday, scoring 12 points in 21 minutes in Houston’s 112-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Reports have been swirling that the disgruntled three-time defending NBA scoring champion wants out of Houston, but Harden dodged answering questions about the trade speculation.
“Right now, I’m just focused on being here,” he said. “Today was good, yesterday felt really good being out here for the first time since the bubble.”
The Rockets were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the Western Conference semifinals in the bubble in September, after winning a third straight Southwest Division title.
This year’s team will have a different look after Russell Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards for John Wall, along with Stephen Silas serving as coach after Mike D’Antoni told the Rockets he was not returning at the end of last season.
Houston begin their 2020-21 season next Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.