Rockets star James Harden will be required to register negative coronavirus tests for six consecutive days before receiving clearance to join the team for group workouts, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter links).
As MacMahon explains in an ESPN story, the NBA required three consecutive negative tests from most players before they were permitted to enter team facilities for individual workouts. However, Harden arrived in Houston late and violated league policies by attending parties and clubs in Atlanta and Las Vegas without wearing a face mask, subjecting him to a longer testing period.
The timeline should put Harden on track to join his teammates for practice on Monday, assuming he doesn’t test positive for COVID-19 during the next few days. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle notes (via Twitter) that Harden wasn’t going to fly to Chicago for the Rockets’ preseason games against the Bulls on Friday and Sunday anyway, so this shouldn’t actually delay his practice debut.
Asked about Harden’s status, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said he had the opportunity to say hello to the former MVP on Wednesday, per MacMahon. Silas likely won’t get a chance for a longer face-to-face interaction until Harden clears the testing process.
Interestingly, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reported that Harden made his offseason trade request as soon as Houston hired Silas as its new head coach. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that Harden sought a trade as a direct response to Silas’ hiring, Zillgitt says the former Mavericks assistant wasn’t among the 31-year-old’s top choices when management asked for his input on the coaching search.
We learned on Tuesday that Harden has indicated to the Rockets that he’s open to being dealt to teams besides Brooklyn, including the Sixers.