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James Harden arrives in Orlando

The Beard is in the bubble!

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
Lets all celebrate!
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The waiting game is over, at least for one Houston Rockets absent player. James Harden arrived in Orlando yesterday after missing the start of practice. Rumors abound about a possible COVID-19 positive for The Beard, but that hasn’t been officially reported by anyone. It’s been all rumor and speculation from unverified sources.

Thabo Sefolosha mentioned earlier this month when he decided to sit out the restart that several Rockets players were positive, but again, the “several” part continues to be unverified rumor.

It was reported earlier this week that Russell Westbrook tested positive for COVID-19, so that ramped up the speculation even more about Harden’s status, but the Rockets and the league have yet to officially comment on what exactly delayed The Beard’s arrival.

It could be possible that Harden needed to be tested for COVID-19 (maybe from being around Russ?), and tested negative. Remember, the CDC recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone who has been exposed — even if they tested negative — because of the extended incubation time of the virus.

Per NBA bubble protocol, anyone who has tested positive must have two consecutive negative tests before they are allowed in the bubble, which takes time, so Harden’s quick return might mean he was exposed but negative and simply waiting out his 14 days. Or the rumors might have been true and he was positive, but until we know for certain, I don’t think it’s prudent to assign a COVID-19 diagnosis to anyone.

Anyway, The Beard is here now, and that’s good news for the Rockets. So whether he was positive or not, Harden’s arrival means he’s now negative, and that’s all that matters. We’re still waiting on Russ, who currently has no timetable for his return, but is said to be expected sometime soon. It’s important to note that Harden (and Russ when he arrives) must still go through the standard arrival quarantine period mandated for all bubble players.

And Luc Mbah a Moute, who came aboard as Sefolosha’s replacement, is also still absent. No official word yet on Luc either, though rumors are abound for his status as well.

But anyway, if we hear something official, we’ll report it, but until then, The Beard is back, and hopefully Brodie will be soon too!