The arrival of John Wall has left All-NBA guard James Harden unmoved and uninterested in pursuing a new partnership, and the franchise star continues to push the Houston Rockets for a trade, sources told ESPN.
After making his Rockets preseason debut this past weekend, Wall expressed hope that Harden might become excited about playing with him in a backcourt — a prospect that Harden is rejecting as he prepares to rejoin the team Monday in practice, sources said.
“I think me and James can be a heck of a combination,” Wall told reporters after the Rockets’ 104-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. “I just hope we get the opportunity to get into the regular season and see how it goes.”
This isn’t personal with Wall, and as one source told ESPN, there’s “no change” in Harden’s desire for a fresh start elsewhere.
After detouring to social engagements in Atlanta and Las Vegas before reporting late for training camp last week, Harden — a league MVP and three-time NBA scoring champion — has expressed to Rockets ownership and management his intention to be professional and engaged upon joining the team, sources said.
For the Rockets, this is necessary for the team to operate under new coach Stephen Silas while also allowing for some leverage in the trade market to get closer to full value for Harden. The appearance of a distressed asset only hinders an organization in making a trade of this magnitude, and Harden has expressed understanding of that concept, as well as the idea that it may take time to find a trade that returns appropriate value to the Rockets, sources said.
The Rockets have talked with the two primary preferred trade destinations for Harden, the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, sources said. Brooklyn remains Harden’s top choice, which would mean a reunion with his former Oklahoma City teammate, Kevin Durant.
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