James Harden’s mom defends MIA son amid desire for Nets trade

The final authority on James Harden – his mom – said the three-time scoring champion just wants a chance at an NBA title. It remains to be seen if the best way for him to get it involves forcing a trade from Houston to Brooklyn.

Monja Willis – who has represented her son in business dealings in recent years – took to social media Monday, going on her Instagram page to respond to a fan who’d criticized her son.

“He is doing what is best for his career. Please pay attention and understand,” Willis said. “He has worked hard every time he suited up for his job, giving 210 percent. He ask(ed) for a chance to get a ring, that’s it. Anyone in their right mind in this bus(iness) would want that.”

While Willis never said the words Brooklyn or Nets, Harden has already let the Rockets know that he wants out and this is his preferred destination. Nets star Kevin Durant – who is Harden’s former teammate in Oklahoma City and longtime friend – reportedly spoke with the disgruntled Rockets star about teaming up in Brooklyn.

It’s become an elephant in the Nets’ room, one they’re trying to ignore.

“I guess we let the elephant be,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said of the Harden rumors. “I love our guys and hopefully they all feel really valued and wanted and respected. We have so many guys that bring so much to the table.

James Harden mom Rockets Nets
James Harden and his mom Monja Willis in 2018.
Getty Images for Turner Sports

“When I’m in the gym with them every day I feel fortunate. So hopefully they feel that, and they don’t feel that we’re looking out the window at greener pastures because we love what we have here and hopefully our behavior every day omits that and guys feel comfortable, valued and supported and striving for something individually and collectively.”

Not only had Harden not shown up to training camp as of Monday morning, but there are numerous pictures and videos of him parting in Las Vegas and Atlanta, sometimes indoors and maskless in direct noncompliance with NBA mandates.

Rookie Rockets coach Stephen Silas admits he hadn’t spoken to Harden recently, and after saying Sunday that he expected his disgruntled star to have an individual workout in Houston later that night, video emerged of Harden partying in Las Vegas. What the Rockets have isn’t just a failure to communicate, but a big problem with a franchise player that wants a deal to Brooklyn.

“He’s not here, and he has a reason, but that’s on him to tell whoever what the reason is,” Silas said, calling Harden’s absence from camp a “setback.”

Any such deal would almost certainly have to involve the Nets’ top players not named Durant and Kyrie Irving. Players like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie have been mentioned, but when asked about how things coming to a head in Houston are impacting them, LeVert deflected the question.

“How do we handle James Harden not going to practice?” LeVert deadpanned. “For us, for myself, I mean I don’t really have anything to do with James Harden not going to practice. That doesn’t concern me. I’m focused on the team, the Nets, myself, trying to be the best I can be so that we can be better as a team. I don’t really focus on all of that stuff. That really has nothing to do with me.”

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