James Harden is a no show at Rockets training camp.

He was recently, apparently, spotted at a strip club, violating COVID-19 protocol, and does not seem to be totally interested in Houston basketball at the moment.

A few weeks back, there were reports that Harden was interested in Brooklyn or Philly as a trade destination. No move materialized as Daryl Morey instead went out and surrounded Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with shooters.

But today we got this report from Woj and Tim MacMahon at ESPN:

“James Harden indicated to the Houston Rockets before the beginning of training camp that he would be open to a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers or possibly other contenders, sources told ESPN.

Harden, the perennial MVP candidate who is holding out of training camp, previously requested to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets to form a super team with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

After it was clear there was no traction in talks with the Nets, Harden expressed to the Rockets that he would be agreeable if a trade with the 76ers materialized, sources said. Harden also indicated that there could be other teams that fit his criteria for a preferred destination, a source said.”

Woj goes on to write that no “substantive” discussion has taken place between the Rockets and Sixers, so I guess we could end the story right there. If the player wants a trade, but the teams don’t wanna do it, then obviously we’ve reached a dead end. Nothing Morey has said would make me feel like he’d split up Simmons and Embiid before giving Doc Rivers a shot at making the young superstar combination work.

That, I think, is the right move. If James Harden is available, of course you have to inquire, but you’d probably regret splitting up Ben and Joel before seeing what another coach can do with them. There’s no way you can pull off a Harden trade without sending one of Embiid or Simmons to Houston.