James Harden Reportedly Would Ask Rockets for Off Days, Fly to Vegas to Party

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2020

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) argues a call during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Houston Rockets guard James Harden is a legitimate superstar in the NBA, and like many of the league's top players, he has reportedly received some preferential treatment from his team over the years.

According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, sources close to the team said Harden has often been granted permission to take a day off when there are two or three days between games. In those instances, Harden is known to charter a private jet to Las Vegas and other cities in order to party.

Harden reportedly also receives an excused absence from the first practice after every All-Star break so he can party as well.

A former Rockets staffer explained the situation to MacMahon as "whatever James wants."

In addition to the aforementioned perks, Harden's affinity for Los Angeles, Phoenix and other cities would reportedly often result in the Rockets staying overnight or even an extra day in those cities during road trips when it wasn't the front end of a back-to-back set.

Some within the franchise currently described Harden's penchant for partying as "just James being James," per MacMahon.

In some ways, the Rockets giving in to Harden's desires over the years is understandable since he has been an elite player in the NBA during his eight years with the franchise.

Harden is an eight-time All-Star, he has won the NBA scoring title each of the past three seasons with over 30 points per game each of those years, and he has won an NBA MVP award in Houston as well.

Although the Rockets have been unable to make it past the Western Conference Finals with Harden leading the way, they are a perennial playoff team that is seemingly always in the mix.

Now, things are changing in Houston, as Harden reportedly wants out.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last month that Harden turned down a contract extension offer from the Rockets that would have paid him $50 million per year. The star also reportedly requested a trade to the Brooklyn Nets so he could play alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Since then, Harden has indicated he would be open to a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers or other contenders as well, per Wojnarowski and MacMahon.

The Rockets have yet to honor his request, as there are at least two years remaining on Harden's contract, and the guard has since reported to the team.

As things currently stand, the Rockets are set to begin the 2020-21 season next week with Harden still on the roster, but even after all the compromises the organization has made over the years, his tenure with the team may be on borrowed time.