It was the third consecutive missed game for Harden, and it remains unclear when he'll be able to return to the floor. Coach Steve Nash said before Tuesday's game that he wasn't sure whether Harden would be ready to play Thursday against the Washington Wizards.
"I think he's still doing his strengthening," Nash said. "He'll do court work, but I think taking the wheels off and exploding is still something that he wants to cover. So when he shoots, he still looks like James, but as far as like changing ends and accelerating and all that stuff, I think it's being conservative right now to continue to regain that strength that there's a deficit right now. Just to be safe and to look long term. There's no point in us risking a big patch of the season for him to be back where he was last year for long stretches."
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 walk-through.
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 Nets team that has lost nine in a row following Tuesday's setback.
"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), Nic Claxton (hamstring tightness), Joe Harris (ankle surgery) and Kyrie Irving, who cannot play in home games because of the New York City COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Nash did say after Tuesday's loss that Durant would likely travel on the Nets' upcoming road trip to Washington and Miami.
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's 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."