James Harden may already be in violation of his uniform player contract as he has yet to report to training camp with the Houston Rockets as he continues to seek a trade.
The Rockets likely don't want the situation to escalate at this point as it would involve the union.
"I'll tell you this, Mr. MacMahon," said Zach Lowe. "I have already heard from, I don't know, three, four people out of the blue today who don't work for the Rockets but work for the other 29 teams saying 'the league has to step in and do something about this. This is not okay.'
"This is going to become the latest referendum on player empowerment and when does it go too far? I think it's a nuanced and fascinating topic. But it's already spiraling out of control."
MacMahon said the Rockets "absolutely don't want a fight" with Harden.
"The Rockets are clinging to the hope, 'Hey, we can be competitive this year," said MacMahon. "'If we're competitive and we're willing, maybe James will get back on board' They're just clinging to this hope and I mean, how many times have you seen a superstar demand a trade very publicly and things ended up working out. I will give you Kobe Bryant when they pulled the Pau Gasol trade and won championships. I'm having a hard time thinking of another situation like that."
Because Harden cannot become a free agent until 2022, the Rockets feel like they have time to wait for an improved trade offer.
MacMahon previously wrote about how the Rockets were willing to get uncomfortable with Harden's trade request, but he's already making that a reality as he stays away from the team and makes public appearances at clubs in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
"He's basically saying ''I'm going to make this as ugly a situation as possible.' I wrote the story weeks ago where a Rockets source told me that the franchise was willing to get uncomfortable," said MacMahon. 'Look, you want to be gone. We get that. We're not going to be rushed into it. We're willing to get uncomfortable.' It seems like Harden is taking that as a challenge."