Harden didn't elaborate or take any additional questions following his initial comments.
Harden’s words will surely be noticed by NBA officials, but it wouldn’t seem that what he said postgame would merit a trade demand — and subject him to a fine. The league has a longstanding rule about players not being able to publicly express a desire to be traded and has issued $50,000 fines in recent years to players like Anthony Davis and Dewayne Dedmon for breaking that policy.
Harden was fined $50,000 earlier this season for conduct detrimental to the league related to him not following the health and safety protocols put into place by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association for navigating a season during a coronavirus pandemic.
Harden won each of the last three scoring titles by notable margins — 2.3 points over Davis in 2017-18, 8.1 points over Paul George in 2018-19 and 3.8 points over Bradley Beal last season. His 24.8-point average so far this season ranked 18th in the NBA, still putting him among the leaders but obviously well off his usual pace.
He’s averaged at least 25 points per game in each of his eight full seasons with the Rockets.
The Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a future first-round draft pick before the season in what was seen as an attempt to pacify Harden.
So far, the pairing of the two ball-dominant guards hasn't gone well. The Rockets are 3-6 and looked completely overmatched in their last two games against the reigning champions.
Wall was asked how he and Harden have worked together on the court so far after Tuesday's game.
“It’s a little rocky," Wall said. “I don’t think it’s the best it could be, that’s all I could say.”
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Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (17) and guard James Harden (13) and Rockets coach Stephen Silas, front right, watch a replay after a call during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Houston. (Troy Taormina/Pool Photo via AP)
Credit: Troy Taormina
Credit: Troy Taormina