Tim Warner/Getty Images
James Harden has officially arrived at the NBA’s campus-like environment at Walt Disney World Resort.
The Houston Rockets shared video of the guard arriving in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday:
Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets
The Beard has arrived! 🛬 https://t.co/WrTZMclEDh
This is welcome news for the Rockets, especially since fellow All-Star guard Russell Westbrook announced he tested positive for COVID-19 before the Rockets left for Florida. Westbrook noted he is “feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared.”
Westbrook will need to pass two COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart following his quarantine to eventually join the Rockets.
As for Harden, Marc Stein of the New York Times noted he “will have to isolate and register three consecutive negative tests for COVID-19 before he is cleared to join the Rockets.”
This comes after Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Thursday that Harden and Westbrook did not travel with the rest of the team to the resort.
“Really happy that James is here,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. “Now we’ll just wait for the team to be completely whole with Russell (Westbrook) and Luc Mbah a Moute (arriving). Good first step. I’m just really glad that James is here.”
The Rockets are 40-24 and tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. They will have eight seeding games to separate from OKC and potentially make a move toward the third-seeded Denver Nuggets (2.5 games back) and fourth-seeded Utah Jazz (one game back).
It is unrealistic to expect them to do so and then challenge for a title without Harden and Westbrook on the floor considering how much of the offense runs through the two guards.
Harden is a two-time scoring champion, six-time All-NBA selection and eight-time All-Star who won the 2017-18 league MVP, and Westbrook is a two-time scoring champion, two-time assist champion, eight-time All-NBA selection and nine-time All-Star who won the 2016-17 league MVP.
Houston’s first game is scheduled for July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.
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