After returning to Houston this week from out of town, James Harden must test negative for the coronavirus six times in a row before he can begin practicing with the Rockets.
But, even if the superstar shooting guard does pass the six-pack of tests, there is no guarantee he will take the floor with his Rockets teammates again as he is seeking a trade out of Houston and reportedly wants to be dealt out of the Western Conference to either the 76ers, Bucks, Nets or Heat.
If Harden continues to pass his tests and opts to end his holdout from the team, the earliest he could be cleared to practice is Monday.
“We’re just trying to iron all that stuff out right now,” said first-year Rockets coach Stephen Silas. “I wish I had a good answer for you. I wish I had a better answer for you when it comes to all that, but I don’t.”
An eight-time All-Star in his 11 NBA seasons, Harden has two guaranteed seasons remaining on his contract (with a player option in 2022) but feels his window to compete for a championship in Houston has closed, according to The Athletic. The organization has worked to change his mind by trading Russell Westbrook for John Wall and signing versatile big man Christian Wood and former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, but Harden has maintained radio silence toward the Houston front office.
Despite that, the team is in no rush to deal the former MVP and will likely only move him for a mammoth haul of young players and draft picks.
“For now, the Rockets and Harden are together again and moving toward the upcoming season,” according to The Athletic. “Houston’s perfect world scenario is a Harden-led roster racing to a strong start, reinvigorating his belief in the franchise as a championship threat. In the meantime, Harden will continue to eye his next potential home.”