The Rockets appear set to open the regular season with James Harden on their roster, and while the star guard has reportedly vowed to be professional as he waits for the team to satisfy his trade request, the environment around the team has been tense at times in recent days, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Harden had multiple verbal confrontations with teammates during practices on Sunday and Monday, reports Charania. Sources tell The Athletic that one of those confrontations saw Harden throw a basketball at Jae’Sean Tate after the two had a “heated exchange.”
Charania acknowledges that tense practice interactions between teammates aren’t necessarily uncommon in competitive environments. However, he says some people around the franchise view the confrontations as signaling an “uncharacteristic level of frustration” for Harden, who is typically more calm and laid back.
While Charania compares the situation to Jimmy Butler‘s final weeks in Minnesota, he notes that there are a number of differences between the two situations — Butler was in a contract year, which gave him added leverage, and has a more fiery, volatile personality than Harden. The Rockets are hoping to avoid that sort of volatility as they wait out the trade market and focus on finding a deal that meets their asking price, says Charania.
For what it’s worth, Charania writes that sources have described Harden as “engaged and encouraging” with teammates during games so far this month.
The Rockets will open their regular season by hosting the Thunder on Wednesday night.