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Sources — John Wall, Houston Rockets discussing return to play

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Houston Rockets guard John Wall has expressed his hope to the organization that he can resume playing for the team in the near future, sources tell ESPN.

Wall and the Rockets had agreed on him sitting out until a trade could be found, but the five-time All-Star guard talked to Houston general manager Rafael Stone on Friday about restarting discussions on a return to the active roster, sources said. The two sides are expected to continue talks on Sunday.

For Wall to play this season, a compromise probably would need to be found between respecting his stature with a supermax contract and the Rockets’ desire to have him play a complementary role to help develop their young core. That, along with other considerations, could be key to finding a path for Wall to play for the Rockets in 2021-22.

With two years and $91 million left on his contract, trade talks surrounding Wall have been a nonstarter this season and there is been no inclination on either side for a buyout to make him a free agent, sources said.

Wall, 31, arrived in Houston via a trade with Washington that sent Russell Westbrook to the Wizards prior to the 2020-21 season. After missing the entire 2019-20 season with an Achilles tear, Wall started 40 games for the Rockets and averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists. The Rockets and Wall agreed to shut him down late in the season, trying to protect his body and trade value.

The Rockets are counting on No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and third-year guard Kevin Porter Jr. to play cornerstone roles for the future. Before the season, the Rockets and Wall agreed that he would continue practicing and working out with the team, but wouldn’t be an active player as Houston sought trade scenarios.

The Rockets are 2-16 to start the season, but ended a 15-game losing streak with a victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

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Brooklyn Nets star James Harden misses game vs. Denver Nuggets because of left hamstring tightness

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden did not play against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night because of what the team said was left hamstring tightness.

Harden, who is averaging 37 minutes a game this season, was a late scratch a night after racking up a triple-double in Tuesday’s 106-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Prior to the game, Nets coach Steve Nash acknowledged how tough it is to manage Harden’s minutes as the team continues to play without stars Kevin Durant (sprained MCL) and Kyrie Irving. Irving is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and cannot play in home games because of a New York City vaccination mandate.

“It is a challenge,” Nash said. “We would like to protect him more. But he’s a competitor and wants to be out there so we try to have our little tug of war and I think that’s why at times we’d like to ask him to miss games so that he can regenerate and be a little bit safer as far as being ready to go when the playoffs begin.”

Harden expressed frustration after Tuesday’s loss, saying in part that he believes the Nets should have a better record than the 29-18 record they came into Wednesday’s game with.

“Of course I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy,” Harden said after Tuesday’s game. “There’s a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason. Injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it. But yeah, it’s frustrating. I think everybody in this organization is frustrated because we are better than what our record is and we should be on the way up.”

Nash believes that despite Harden’s frustration, he remains “happy” as a Net.

“I think James is happy to be here,” Nash said. “I just think it’s frustrating right now because we haven’t played great basketball, we’ve had a lot of injuries, we’ve had a lot of illness. A lot of guys in and out of the lineup. A lot of chop and change so that can be frustrating for sure to not have that kind of consistency to build on. And we haven’t had our best performances.

“We’ve had a few — but ever since the COVID return it’s been, lets say, average basketball overall. So we have higher expectations and it’s frustrating, but I think James is happy here for sure.”

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Brooklyn Nets to shun trade-deadline offers for James Harden

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The Brooklyn Nets won’t listen to trade-deadline overtures for All-NBA guard James Harden, a resolve rooted in Harden’s repeated insistences to ownership and management that he’s committed to staying and winning a championship with the franchise, sources told ESPN.

Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks are buoyed not only by Harden’s consistent internal stance, but the shared public and private belief among superstars Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving that the three make the Nets an unstoppable team when playing together.

Once Durant returns to the lineup in February from a sprained MCL injury, the expectation is that the Nets will get an ample window to prove that again this season. Irving is still limited by a New York City mandate that prohibits unvaccinated players from performing at home.

The Philadelphia 76ers‘ plans for a potential pursuit of Harden this summer have been no secret anywhere in the league, but the Sixers have yet to make the Nets a trade offer ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline, sources said. The Nets don’t plan to engage any team — including the Sixers — that might try to pry Harden ahead of his possible free agency this summer, sources said.

Harden, 32, didn’t sign an extension in the preseason, pushing a decision to the summer of 2022. To stay with the Nets on a long-term deal, Harden could opt-in on his $47.4 million contract for 2022-23 and sign a four-year, $223 million extension at the start of free agency. Harden would earn $61.7 million in the last year of the deal, becoming the first player to surpass $60 million in a single season.

Harden can opt out of the 2022-2023 season to become a free agent and sign elsewhere, or the Nets could agree to a sign-and-trade deal where Harden opts into the final year of his contract with plans to sign a long-term deal with his new team in 2023. ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks projects only Detroit, Orlando and San Antonio to have cap space this offseason.

The Nets acquired Harden in a four-team trade in January 2021, a move that Harden and Durant pushed hard for the Nets to make. Harden is averaging 23 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Nets this season. He was the NBA’s MVP in 2018 and is a nine-team All-Star and six-time first-team All-NBA player.

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Sacramento Kings’ Terence Davis out indefinitely due to wrist injury

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ATLANTA — Sacramento Kings guard Terence Davis will be out indefinitely after injuring his right wrist in Tuesday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics.

Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry said before Wednesday night’s game at the Atlanta Hawks that the team’s medical staff was “in the process of exploring all kind of treatment” for Davis.

Davis took a hard fall in the 128-75 loss at Boston. The wrist injury was announced after the game. The Kings said tests on Wednesday revealed damage to tendons in the wrist.

Davis has emerged as a prominent scorer and starter for the struggling Kings. The second-year player is averaging 10.4 points per game. He scored a career-high 35 points on Jan. 19 against Detroit and 22 points the following game against Milwaukee.

“I thought he was playing really good basketball for us,” Gentry said. “He was attacking the basket. … It’s an opportunity for somebody else to step in. Obviously, there are going to be minutes there.”

Kings center Chimezie Metu also will miss Wednesday night’s game with a knee injury.

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