Houston Rockets star James Harden did not attend his team's first training camp practice on Sunday. First-year head coach Stephen Silas said that the absence was due to the league's COVID-19 protocols, which coincided with Harden attending rapper Lil Baby's birthday party. He was spotted without a mask while breaking the NBA's quarantine requirements.
Harden posted several photos showing him over the weekend with Lil Baby. One image featured the rapper opening a Prada bag filled with several gifts. Harden gave him $100,000 in cash, an expensive Richard Mille watch and several honey buns. "Celebrated our Birthdays yesterday but at this point this really everyday for us. And people think we be showin off," Harden wrote in the caption.
James Harden gifts Lil Baby with a Prada bag, $100,000 cash & a $200,000 Richard Mille watch for his 26th birthday pic.twitter.com/juHJjm0sCZ— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) December 4, 2020
According to ESPN, the league had strict requirements for players ahead of their respective training camps. The NBA required players to quarantine at home. They could only leave to undergo testing at team facilities, take part in individual workouts and conduct essential activities such as grocery shopping.
"I'm not exactly sure what hoops he has to jump through in order to practice with the team," Silas said about Harden missing practice. "I would just say I want him here, and I want him to be a big part of what we're doing. I'm excited to coach him and have him be a part of what we just had out there with a good practice, with a bunch of guys who are working hard on both ends of the floor and had a good vibe about them."
While the first-year coach has expressed a desire to have Harden in the building, the feeling is reportedly not mutual. Sources say that the perennial All-Star has expressed a desire to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Although John Wall, who recently joined the Rockets, said that he spoke to Harden and that he "for sure" wants to play for the team this season.
"We're going to figure out what's the best decision [regarding] when he wants to get here and be here," Wall said. "We've been on the same page since I've been traded here." Wall also told reporters that he and Harden talked prior to the trade that brought him to Houston and expressed a mutual desire to play on the same team.