Houston Rockets trade frustrated Harden to Brooklyn Nets



FILE PHOTO: Jan 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a basket during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

January 15, 2021

(Reuters) – The Houston Rockets have traded guard James Harden to Brooklyn, the Nets anounced on Thursday, after the eight-time All-Star’s relationship with the Western Conference team broke down this week.

Harden, the NBA’s MVP in 2018, said the Rockets were “just not good enough” this season as they sit second-bottom in the Western Conference with a 3-6 record, prompting the 31-year-old to say the situation could not be fixed.

Harden’s arrival at the Nets reunites him with forward Kevin Durant — his team mate at Oklahoma City Thunder — and guard Kyrie Irving as the franchise look to form their own All-star trio.

“Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league’s best,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

“James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.”

The trade deal also involves the Cleveland Cavaliers, with Nets center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince moving to the Cavaliers while guard Caris LeVert and forward Rodions Kurucs join the Rockets.

U.S. media reported that LeVert is expected to move to the Indiana Pacers in an exchange deal for All-Star Victor Oladipo.

The Nets, sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 7-6 record, also sent three first round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to Houston.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)



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Shaq slams James Harden as Brooklyn trade ends Houston era


NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has slammed James Harden following his move from Houston to Brooklyn yesterday.

Harden did everything in his power to force a trade out of the Rockets, including not showing up to pre-season training, partying in direct violation of league COVID protocols, gaining weight and speaking of his desire to leave in the media.

With the situation untenable and his teammates frustrated, Houston made the call to move Harden to the Nets, in exchange for four unprotected first round picks and four rights to swap picks.

Cleveland and Indiana were also part of the deal, with the Rockets landing former All-Star Victor Oladipo, while Brooklyn gave up Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

Harden’s tenure in Houston, as Shaq points out, can be summed up by three players. The Rockets did everything in their power to build a championship team around the 2018 NBA MVP, trading for All-Stars Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in three different intervals.

In all three instances, Harden asked for the player to be brought in and subsequently asked for them to be traded away.

In the Paul case, the Rockets also had to trade away draft picks to Oklahoma City in order to bring in Westbrook. Paul would go on to outplay Westbrook the following year, rubbing salt in the wounds of that deal.

Taking everything into account, O’Neal did not hold back in his assessment of the Harden era in Houston.

“When you say you gave the city your all, that ain’t true,” Shaq told NBA on TNT.

“You asked for Dwight Howard, (they) gave him to you, didn’t work out. You asked for Chris Paul (they) gave him to you. You asked for some shooters, (they) gave it to you. (You) asked for Russell Westbrook, your home boy from little league, (they) give him to you and it didn’t work out.

“And when you say ‘I gave you everything’, I say no you didn’t because the last five games when it came to (playoff) elimination, you’re one (win) and four (losses), you’re shooting 41 per cent, 24 per cent from three, 32 assists and 27 turnovers.

“I used to be like James. I used to come home and complain ‘man he didn’t do this, he didn’t do that’ and my father, rest in piece, would say ‘well what the hell did you do?’

“(Harden) ain’t done nothing. He hasn’t stepped up when he was supposed to step up.

“When you’re the man and you make $30 or $40 million a year, it’s a big responsibility. (Charles Barkley) had said this many times, when you’re the man, you’ve got a big responsibility and it’s all on you.

“So when it was time to show up, he ain’t shown up. So I know a lot of people in Houston are glad he’s gone.”

The Nets will have to put their star trio of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together fast, with the shortened season not giving them the usual 82 games to build chemistry.

On top of that, Irving is currently away from the team and was spotted at his sister’s 30th birthday without a mask, violating the league’s COVID protocols.

Despite that, O’Neal said if Brooklyn doesn’t get it together and win the championship this year, then they have failed.

“Now (Harden’s) got his little super team. He’s got to win this year. If he doesn’t win it this year, it’s a bust. Period,” he said.

It’s unclear when we will see the trio together for the first time, given Irving’s absence.

Durant has returned from a torn Achilles and looks as dominant as ever, while Harden will need to work himself into playing shape after a poor start to the season.





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NBA: James Harden reported to be joining Brooklyn Nets as they beat New York Knicks


James Harden joined the Houston Rockets in October 2012

The Brooklyn Nets fought back to beat the New York Knicks 116-109 on a night they reportedly signed James Harden.

US reportsexternal-link say Harden, NBA top scorer for the past three seasons, has left the Houston Rockets after nine years.

The 31-year-old was asked to miss Rockets training on Wednesday, having said that they were not good enough to be title contenders after Tuesday’s defeat at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points in the Nets’ win over the Knicks.

Star forward Durant, a former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate of Harden, led seven Nets players in double figures as they moved sixth in the Eastern Conference on seven wins and six defeats.

The deal for Harden – which has been reported in the US but not confirmed – is said to be part of a huge trade that also involves the Indians Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As part of the trade, Houston would receive guard Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, guard Dante Exum from the Cavaliers and forward Rodions Kurucs of the Nets.

The Rockets would also get three first-round draft picks from the Nets, one unprotected 2022 first-round pick from the Cavaliers – via the Milwaukee Bucks – and the right to swap four first-round picks with the Nets.

After Tuesday’s defeat against the Lakers, 31-year-old Harden – the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2018 – said Houston were “not even close, honestly” to the league’s top competition.

James and Lakers win away (again)

LeBron James attempts a lay up
LeBron James was again influential for the Los Angeles Lakers

Elsewhere in the Western Conference on Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his 20th career triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks beat the Detroit Pistons 110-101.

The win leaves the Bucks second behind Boston Celtics in the west, while the Los Angeles Lakers, the Eastern Conference leaders, were helped by 26 points from LeBron James in a 128-99 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The success means the Lakers have won their opening seven away matches in a season for the first time in their history. They remain favourites to win the NBA title this season and have now trailed for just 11 seconds in total during their last three games.

The Los Angeles Clippers moved second in the Western Conference as Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds, in a 111-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Luka Doncic collected 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a fourth win in a row as they proved too strong for the Charlotte Hornets, their hosts, in a 104-93 victory.

The Mavericks sit sixth in the West, a place behind the Portland Trailblazers, who won 132-126 at the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

Damian Lillard notched 40 points and 13 assists for Portland as they overhauled a 19-point third-quarter deficit to record a fourth win in a row and elsewhere, the Memphis Grizzlies earned a 118-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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James Harden to Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons stays, mistake, ecstatic


Ben Simmons is reportedly “pretty ecstatic” about being left alone as NBA superstar James Harden left the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets.

The move sees the eight-time All-Star joining top dogs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in New York in a team now overflowing with alpha personalities who like the ball in their hands.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Nets are giving up four unprotected first-round draft picks and four first-round pick swaps to get their man in a wild deal that also involves Cleveland and Indiana.

ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski called Houston’s return “one of the strongest draft packages in league history”.

“Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise’s most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract,” Wojnarowski added.

The Rockets will also get Victor Oladipo, Aussie Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs.

But the man they won’t get is Ben Simmons.

While his offensive production has been down to start the season, Simmons has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in the NBA.

An All-Defensive first team member last season and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Simmons’ relationship with Joel Embiid has long been criticised as not being strong enough to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.

But with shooters brought into the team to allow Embiid and Simmons to operate in the paint, ESPN’s The Undefeated reporter Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Aussie believes this season is different.

“Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star,” he tweeted.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic said Simmons is “fine” after the deal went down with Shams Charania reporting that Simmons was put on the trading block.

In the end, the Rockets believed “the Nets offer just supplanted that” and that the 76ers didn’t want to “mortgage their entire future” on Harden, according to Charania.

The Simmons deal reportedly had Simmons and Matisse Thybulle but the Rockets also wanted rookie Tyrese Maxey.

But CBS’s Brad Botkin, who said he didn’t believe Simmons was a franchise player but that the Aussie was the one thing the Rockets didn’t get with the big trade haul.

“It’s not a terrible bet. Still, not coming away with Simmons in a situation like this is a risk. You can pile up picks all you want and never end up with a franchise player, which some people still believe Simmons can be with the right supporting cast,” he wrote in a piece pondering if the Rockets got too greedy with the deal.

For the Nets, Harden has proved to be a divisive player with his petulant tantrum to get out of Houston.

It will also have a lot of money tied up in its best three players.

Irving, Durant and Harden all have two years left on their deals worth $34 million ($A44m), $40m ($A52m) and $44m ($57m) a season, at least $236 million ($A305m) according to The Athletic.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said in November that a Harden trade to Brooklyn could become a “beautiful disaster.”

“It’s three guys who are used to having the ball all the time,” he said on the Bill Simmons podcast.

“Harden and Durant are really good friends from way, way back. Kyrie is somebody that likes to have the ball. I don’t know how I feel about it. It could be a beautiful disaster, or it could be absolutely devastating.”

Just yesterday, Harden slammed the franchise.

“(The Rockets are) just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear,” he said in a press conference.

“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

But it bent his former teammate’s noses out of shape with DeMarcus Cousins

“Me, personally, I don’t feel betrayed at all,” Cousins said. “My interest was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest. With that being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the answers off the court. I mean, the disrespect started way before.”

And the move has also drawn a target on the Nets’ back with anything short of a championship to be considered a failure.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro said the offensive talents of the team could see 150 points being put on some nights – but it’s come at the expense of the side defensively.

“Taking the Bucks to seven games in an epic Eastern final won’t be enough. Falling to the Lakers in a memorable Finals? Nope. The Nets aren’t just all-in for the next 2-3 years, they are all in for the rest of the decade. Their viability exists in the here and now, defined by a simple equation: Parade or no parade?”

Only time will tell if any of these gambles will pay off.



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James Harden gets long-awaited move away from Houston, joins Kevin Durant at Brooklyn Nets


The James Harden saga ended on Wednesday when the Houston Rockets traded him to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team trade, according to multiple reports.

Earlier reports suggested the Philadelphia 76ers were preparing to trade Australian star Ben Simmons for Harden, before the Nets deal was announced.

The move sees Harden, 31, reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. They played together for three seasons before Harden was dealt to the Rockets in 2013.

The trade comes one day after a disgruntled Harden went on a postgame rant following Tuesday’s 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed,” Harden said.

“We’re just not good enough — chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games.

The Rockets told Harden not to attend Wednesday’s practice, with coach Stephen Silas saying it was “best for the group and for James”.

Harden has been upset with the Rockets since the departures of coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey after last season.

An eight-time All-Star, Harden has three years, $133 million with a player option for the final season remaining on his current deal.

Harden is averaging 24.8 points per game — down from his career average of 25.2 — after reporting late to training camp. However, his assists are up to 10.4 per game from a career average of 6.3.

Harden has led the NBA in scoring in each of the past three seasons with averages of 30.4, 36.1 and 34.3.

Aussie Dante Exum switches as part of multi-player, multi-team deal

Dante Exum, right, is heading to Houston.(AP: Ben Gray)

Australia’s Dante Exum will move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to Houston as part of the deal.

As well as Exum, Houston reportedly received guard Victor Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers and forward Rodions Kurucs of the Nets.

It also received three first-round draft picks from the Nets, one unprotected 2022 first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Milwaukee Bucks) and the right to swap four first-round picks with the Nets.

Guard Caris LeVert and a second-round pick will go from the Nets to the Pacers, and centre Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince go from Brooklyn to the Cavaliers with Cleveland sending a 2024 second-round pick to the Nets.

The first-round picks Houston received from the Nets are in 2022, 2024, 2026. The swaps are in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.

Reuters/ABC

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Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers out of running as James Harden leaves Houston Rockets for Brooklyn Nets


The Nets will reportedly send Rodion Kurucs, first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027 to Houston. Brooklyn will also reportedly send centre Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will send Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick to the Rockets.

The Rockets, meanwhile, will reportedly reroute LeVert to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo. ESPN.com first reported the framework of the Nets deal, while The Athletic first reported Indiana’s involvement.

Any move from Philadelphia for former NBA MVP Harden, right, was likely to result in Ben Simmons being traded.

After a pair of demoralising blowout losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden candidly expressed his belief that the struggling Rockets were not salvageable, accelerating long-standing trade talks for the 2018 MVP.

“We’re just not good enough,” Harden said after the Rockets fell at home 117-100 to the defending champions. “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

The dire assessment from Harden, who has been the face of the Rockets since 2012, comes little more than one month after he reported to training camp late. Multiple reports at the time linked the Rockets with the Nets and 76ers in trade talks involving the three-time scoring champion, who has seen Houston’s roster and organisation change dramatically around him.

When the Lakers eliminated the Rockets from the 2020 play-offs, Harden said that he believed Houston was “a piece away” from title contention. Instead, the Rockets parted ways with Coach Mike D’Antoni, lost general manager Daryl Morey and traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards. Those sweeping, abrupt changes left Harden, 31, to adjust to first-time coach Stephen Silas, first-time general manager Rafael Stone and a new backcourt partner in John Wall.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.Credit:Getty Images

There has been little in the way of instant chemistry, as Harden’s effort has been spotty and his fit with Wall has yet to develop. After eight straight play-off trips, the Rockets have the West’s second-worst record at 3-6 and Harden is scoring 24.8 points per game, his lowest average since he arrived in Houston.

While Harden never issued a public trade request, he arrived at training camp late after partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas without a mask during the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA fined him $US50,000 (about $66,000) for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. Harden is earning $US40.8 million this season and is under contract through at least the 2021-22 season.

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The Rockets elected to keep Harden away from the team’s practice on Wednesday as trade talks with the Nets and 76ers unfolded, and centre DeMarcus Cousins was highly critical of Harden’s recent behaviour.

“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins said Wednesday. “The approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night. This is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is.”

The Rockets, who had their season opener postponed after several players were sidelined by positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests and contact tracing, weathered that early turbulence. Hopes that Harden’s trade value might increase or his personal investment in the Rockets might stabilise if he played well to start the season never came to fruition.

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LaMelo Ball triple-double, Anthony Davis downs James Harden, Heat-Celtics postponed


LaMelo Ball has made history as the youngest player in the NBA to record a triple-double as the No. 3 Draft pick continues to make his mark.

Ball was in Australia last year to play in the NBL and showcased his all-round talents with a rare triple-double down here but he’s done it on the biggest stage possible.

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While the talk of the town in Australia last year was whether the NBL provided a good professional pathway for draftees, it clearly seems to have done the job.

Ball beat previous record holder Markelle Fultz by 177 but it could have been 179 days after he missed out on the milestone just two days ago in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

But playing the Atlanta Hawks, Ball hit 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists on Saturday night.

“A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “This is rare what you’re seeing.

“He’s not rattled by the moment. It’s like he’s been doing this for a number of years.”

Ball said he was still trying to comprehend what he had done.

“I live my life and I know what I’m capable of, so stuff like doesn’t move me like that,” Ball said. “I know that’s supposed to happen.”

He also got plenty of praise from Atlanta star Trae Young who believes there’s a big future ahead of him.

“He’s a tall PG who can pass, can rebound and he’s a smart player,” Young said. “Things are going to become even easier for him in this league as he plays more and more games.”

NBA fans were going equally mad for LaMelo.

The Observer’s Charlotte Hornets beat writer Rick Bonnell said: “I thought through 30-some years of the NBA in Charlotte for a @MELOD1P comparison; the only @hornets rookie that feels similar in talent and impact: Larry Johnson.”

Johnson was a two-time NBA All-Star, 1992 Rookie of the Year and decade-long player in the NBA.

AD EXPLODES IN NBA BLOW OUT

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 27 points as the Los Angeles Lakers delivered a dominating all-around performance on Sunday with a crushing 120-102 defeat of the Houston Rockets in Texas.

The Lakers finally hit their stride in the new NBA season, running the Rockets ragged on offence and bottling up their top scorers on defence, especially three-time league scoring champion James Harden, who was held to 20 points and committed seven turnovers.

LeBron James scored 18 points as he and fellow all-star Davis had plenty of help from the bench.

Talen Horton-Tucker (17 points), Montrezl Harrell (16) and Kyle Kuzma (13) all came off the bench to reach double figures for the Lakers, who are now a perfect 5-0 on the road to start the season.

The defending NBA champions scored a whopping 32 fast break points and 62 points in the paint, finally looking like the juggernaut team that many had envisioned at the start of the season.

But where they really excelled Sunday was on defence, grabbing 39 defensive rebounds and forcing 13 steals.

“We’ve got to be a team who lead games with defence,” Davis said, who returned to the line-up Sunday after sitting out with a sore groin. “Tonight we made shots, but there are going to be nights when we don’t make shots and we can’t control that.

“What we can control is how we play defence. The coach came in at halftime and said our defensive effort was off the charts.”

With both James (ankle) and Davis nursing nagging injuries, getting 54 points from their bench and holding the Rockets to just 46 points in the first half is good sign for the future.

— AFP

COVID REARS ITS UGLY HEAD

It’s never too far from the spotlight but COVID-19 has reminded the NBA it will arguably be the biggest player in the 2020-21 season.

The Boston Celtics’ home game against the Miami Heat didn’t even get on court, the contest postponed because of COVID-19 safety measures.

Miami did not have the required number of available players to play the game while the Celtics were down to the NBA minimum of eight.

Also, Nikola Jokic posted another double-double by finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds for the visiting Denver Nuggets, who cruised to a 114-89 win over the New York Knicks.

— AFP



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Ben Simmons, triple-double record, John Wall, James Harden, Dante Exum shuts down Trae Young


The Philadelphia 76ers have maintained a 5-1 start with a 127-112 win over the Charlotte Hornets with Ben Simmons claiming his first triple-double of the season.

Simmons has put up 29 triple-doubles in his regular season career and is racing up the leaderboard in record time, taking just 223 games to reach the mark.

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While Dallas Mavericks wunderkind Luka Doncic is looking to eclipse Simmons’ record with 25 in his 138 game career so far, it’s a stunning record for the Australian.

Only Magic Johnson, who took 186 games and brought his 29th up in 1982, and Oscar Robertson, who did it in 74 games by 1961, have more triple-doubles in less time than Simmons.

Only Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Nikola Jokic have more triple-doubles than Simmons since the Aussie started his career, but since Magic, Simmons 223 games beats Jokic’s 310 games, Grant Hill’s 336 games, Jason Kidd’s 372 and LeBron James with 556 games.

Westbrook took 570 games to get 29 triple doubles but exploded after that and has now tallied 150 in his career.

Simmons said the 76ers are developing into a handful for any team.

“You see the way we’ve been playing, we like to move the ball, share it, it doesn’t matter who gets the ball in the game in terms of the points, but when we play like that it’s tough,” he said.

He added that the addition of shooters at the perimeter has helped the side with all the players buying in.

Simmons had 15 points 12 rebounds and 11 assists while Joel Embiid added 19 points and 14 boards, while Tobias Harris’ 24 points and Seth Curry’s 21 were the pick of the 76ers.

Simmons is getting the relationship going with his new teammates as well with Curry dishing a no look alley-oop to Simmons for a dunk.

Before the game, Simmons gave the credit all to new coach Doc Rivers who has freed him up to play as he likes.

Rivers has been dismissive of any of the talk around Simmons’ jump shot this season and despite hitting a three in his last game, has said it doesn’t matter.

“I think that’s the good thing with Doc, he allows me to make the right reads,” Simmons said.

“He’s gonna tell me if there’s a certain spot he thinks I should get to. If I don’t do something whether it’s cut or slash, or just spacing-wise. I think I have that freedom.”

WALL DOES IT WITHOUT HARDEN

John Wall delivered a game-high 28 points as the Houston Rockets won their second straight game over the Sacramento Kings 102-94, despite playing without NBA all-star James Harden.

Eric Gordon replaced Harden and scored 21 points, while Christian Wood finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who also beat the Kings 122-119 on New Year’s Eve.

‘‘I just put in a lot of hard work and dedication to get to this point,” Wall said. ‘‘I couldn’t ask for a better start to be 2-0 in my first two games.”

It will give Rockets fans some joy knowing the side could be OK without Harden as the trade talk continues.

Harden had 33 points in the New Year’s Eve game but was a late scratch Saturday. The disgruntled American, who has asked for a trade, sat out with a sore ankle, although he has not been placed on the injury list.

Without Harden, Wall carried the offensive load for the Rockets. He had missed their first two games of the new season because of COVID-19 restrictions and was out all of last season because of injuries.

Sterling Brown came off the bench to score 11 points in the win. Rockets coach Stephen Silas said he is pleasantly surprised with the immediate impact from Wall.

“Whatever expectations I had, he’s obviously exceeded them,” he said.

The Rockets seized their first double-digit lead of the game, 92-81, early in the fourth quarter when David Nwaba and Gordon drained back to back threes.

The Kings got to 92-83 with just over eight minutes left, but then cold shooting and turnovers resulted in them going scoreless for five minutes.

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 23 points, while Buddy Hield chipped in 17 points in the loss.

AFP

DANTE EXUM COMES UP BIG

The Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young is one of the NBA’s most exciting talents but Aussie star Dante Exum has shown how to shut the young gun down.

His Cleveland Cavaliers are fourth in the Eastern Conference having a 4-2 record but claimed a massive scalp against the Hawks.

While Exum had just six points and five rebounds in 35 minutes on the floor, the 96-91 win was set up as he shut down Young.

Young averages 28.2 points for the season as well as 8.3 assists but he was kept to 16 points and 10 assists.

Cleveland even had to battle back from 15 points down halfway through the third quarter, before outscoring the Hawks 26-17 to come over the top of the Hawks.

Cavs star Larry Nance Jr. was blown away by the team’s defence.

“They put up 35 on us in the first quarter and then for the rest of the three quarters of the game, for 36 minutes of basketball, we held them to 53 points,” he said. “That’s unheard of. That’s unheard of. Like we keep saying, that’s what we gotta hang our hats on every night. If you play defence, there’s no game you’re out of.”

But social media was behind Exum’s performance.



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NBA commissioner Adam Silver defends Houston Rockets’ James Harden COVID-19 fine


“It’s a highly unusual time and we have to take that into account,” he added later.

Video of the disgruntled star surfaced on social media, where he was shown without a mask at a crowded party in a private event space Monday night. Harden, in a since-deleted Instagram post, explained why he was at the event.

James Harden should be available for the Rockets’ rescheduled match.Credit:Getty Images

He wrote: “One thing after another. I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in a position of success and now it’s a problem. Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real people always end up on top.”

Harden was actually lucky, Silver said. The 31-year-old would have missed out on a game day pay cheque if Wednesday’s fixture had gone ahead, which would have been a larger sanction.

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Instead, Harden will isolate until Friday (Saturday AEDT) and likely be available for the team’s new season opener the next day in Portland.

“Nothing about this was predictable or ideal,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said Thursday after his team’s practice in Oklahoma City.

The NBA and the Players Association said that of the 558 players tested for COVID-19 since December 16, two have returned positive tests.

“Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test is isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance,” the NBA and the association said in a joint statement.



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Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder postponed, James Harden, strip club video, COVID-19


The James Harden drama never ends.

COVID-19 precautions forced the first postponement of the NBA season on just the second day of action, as the Houston Rockets’ home game against Oklahoma City was called off.

The league said three Rockets players had returned coronavirus tests that were either positive or inconclusive.

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Four other Rockets players had also been quarantined due to contact tracing measures and star James Harden was ruled out after a protocol violation. With one injured player as well, the Rockets did not have the required eight players available for the game.

“The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols,” the NBA said in a statement.

The postponement was the last thing the league was hoping for on the second day of the season when a full slate of 13 games were scheduled.

On Tuesday, video circulated of Rockets star Harden at a strip club Christmas party without a mask on, and ESPN.com reported that the NBA is investigating the incident as a potential violation of the league’s COVID protocols.

“One thing after another,” Harden wrote on Instagram. “I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now It’s a problem.

“Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real always end on top.”

Harden had COVID-19 over the summer prior to last season’s NBA bubble restart, according to the report, but nevertheless is required to follow the NBA’s protocols.

Harden has been demanding a trade from the Rockets, with the Nets and 76ers viewed as possible destinations. Harden held out from the start of training camp as videos of him partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas surfaced.

The former MVP claimed his absence was for training purposes. He passed six consecutive coronavirus tests upon his arrival.

Harden’s frustration has boiled over in practice. According to The Athletic, Harden has had several verbal altercations with teammates and threw a basketball in anger at rookie forward Jae’Sean Tate.

This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permissions



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