This will be the third consecutive missed game for Harden, and it remains unclear when he’ll be able to return the floor.
Harden, who continues to be a topic of speculation as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches, declined comment on anything other than his playing status as he made his way out of Barclays Center following the Nets’ morning walkthrough.
Coach Steve Nash made it clear prior to Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets that the Nets would not trade Harden.
Veteran guard Patty Mills said he wasn’t sure if the speculation was “distracting” Harden or not, but questions continue to linger over a team that comes into Tuesday’s game having lost eight in a row.
“I think what he’s trying to do at the moment is take care of his hammy and look after it,” Mills said Tuesday. “And do everything in his power to make sure he’s healthy.”
The Nets are already playing without Kevin Durant (sprained MCL), LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained ankle), Joe Harris (ankle surgery) and Kyrie Irving, who cannot play in home games because of the New York City COVID-19 vaccination requirement. The Nets said Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightness) wouldn’t play against the Celtics after missing Sunday’s game.
“I’m not sure how long he’s going to be out,” teammate DeAndre’ Bembry said of Harden. “But he’s getting better over time, for sure. Obviously we need him out there, but we need a lot of guys out there. So I’m not sure how long he’s going to be out, but it’s next-man-up mentality.”
Mills said trade speculation has an impact on the locker room, but it depends on how each individual player responds to the rumors that pop up every year.
“I think it comes down to the individual and whether that person buys into what’s being said or not,” Mills said. “For myself as an example, to be able to stay away from things that could lead into distractions as a professional and someone that been here for a little bit, you try to limit all those distractions. So advice that I give the young guys is just stay in the moment and stay locked in on what we’re trying to do here. You’ve got no control over it anyway. Whatever happens, happens.”