The start of the NBA season is only a few weeks away, but the Houston Rockets still have one major question they need answered sooner rather than later: Is there any hope of keeping James Harden?
Harden has not reported to training camp after a messy offseason during which he reportedly stopped talking to the team and may have even requested a trade. Head coach Stephen Silas, who joined Houston in the offseason, gave no indication of when Harden would return or if he planned to play for the team at all this season.
According to The Athletic's Kelly Iko, Harden gave the Rockets a "mandate" this offseason to "either build a championship team around him or get him to a situation where he could achieve that." The Rockets managed to trade their disgruntled point guard Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a first-round pick, but Harden's continued absence indicates that may not have been enough to convince the former MVP to give Houston another chance.
If Harden is indeed done with the Rockets, they will likely attempt to trade him in hopes of getting some young talent or picks in exchange for one of the game's elite scorers. The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets have been the teams linked to Harden trade rumors, but it appears there have been no real talks at this point.
The NBA season is set to begin on Dec. 22, with the Rockets scheduled to open their season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 23, with or without Harden.