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Source: Rockets Culture Toxic According to Person Familiar With James Harden's Thinking

Sports Illustrated's Rohan Nadkarni reports that a person familiar with superstar James Harden's thinking described the Rockets' culture as toxic and called them the "Knicks of the South."

Harden has yet to rejoin the Houston Rockets ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season. 

On Monday, new Rockets head coach Stephen Silas referred to Harden's absence as a holdout and said there was "no timetable" that he was aware of about when Harden would report. 

Harden did not report to the team's first workout on Sunday. The team cited the league's COVID-19 protocols as the reason for his absence. Harden also did not show up to an expected individual workout on Sunday.

"It is a setback," Silas said Monday. "You want your best player to be here."

The team's new head coach said the possibility of fining Harden for not reporting has not been a subject of discussion, at this juncture. 

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ESPN's Zach Lowe, Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne jointly reported in mid-November that the idea of joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets is resonating with the Rockets' star. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix confirmed ESPN's reporting and added that the Rockets franchise is evaluating its options going forward. 

Harden has two seasons and a player option for a third season remaining on his contract. 

Harden, 31, played three seasons with Durant in Oklahoma City before being traded to the Rockets. Since 2012, the Arizona State product has become one of the NBA’s most dominant offensive players. Harden has won the NBA’s scoring title in each of the last three seasons, averaging 34.3 points per game last season, and took home the 2018 MVP award. 

Last week, the Rockets trade All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to the Wizards in exchange for All-Star guard John Wall. 

Wall said he had a "great talk" with Harden following the trade and "for sure" believes Harden wants to play with the Rockets this season. 

"We're going to figure out what's the best decision [regarding] when he wants to get here and be here," Wall said. "We've been on the same page since I've been traded here."

The Rockets' first preseason game is set for Dec. 11 vs. the Bulls. The Rockets open their regular season on Dec. 23 against the Thunder.