Tuesday’s NBA: Harden in Houston for COVID tests after missing camp’s start

Kristie Rieken
Associated Press

Houston – James Harden is back in Houston after missing the start of Rockets training camp and was going through the NBA’s COVID-19 testing protocols on Tuesday.

Coach Stephen Silas said after Houston’s practice that the disgruntled superstar had arrived in the city and was getting tested but didn’t have much information beyond that.

“That’s pretty much all I know right now,” he said. “It’s kind of some moving parts to it, I assume. But him getting tested in Houston is good for everybody.”

James Harden

Silas said he hadn’t spoken to Harden and had no comment on reports that the All-Star wants to be traded.

“I don’t have anything to do with that,” Silas said. “But him being here shows a level of commitment to what we have going and what we have going forward. And that’s that.”

Harden’s absence comes after the Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall and a first-round draft pick last week. The Rockets have expressed no interest in trading Harden despite months of reports that he wants to leave the team.

The Rockets open the preseason on Friday at Chicago. Silas said he wasn’t sure if Harden would be with the team for that game, but it seems unlikely that he would be able to play if he just began testing on Tuesday.

The first-year coach, who took over for Mike D’Antoni, was asked how he’ll repair the trust between himself and Harden after the player didn’t report to camp on time.

“Trust is built day to day, once the relationship begins, then we’ll begin that process of trust,” Silas said. “Obviously, it wasn’t a great start to it. But that’s the NBA and the NBA isn’t going to be roses every day. And there’s going to be issues and there’s going to be things that you’re going to have to work through as a group. And that’s what … we’re going to do.”

Mask up

For NBA coaches, masks are required this season. Jackets are not.

Rules for coaching attire will be relaxed by the league this year, though not as much as was the case during play at the bubble at Walt Disney World this past summer. Suit jackets or sport coats will not be required – but coaches won’t be able to wear the short-sleeved shirts that most donned for games in the bubble, either.

The new league mandate, as detailed in a memo sent to coaches Sunday and obtained by the Associated Press, requires “business attire … dress shirts, pants, socks, and shoes.” There’s no mention of ties, which some coaches have often gone without in recent years.

The biggest change, though, is the masks, a decision made with safety in mind as the coronavirus pandemic rages on and NBA teams prepare to play in arenas again for the first time since last season was suspended on March 11 when Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive.

The rules will be in effect for the preseason, which begins Friday. The regular season starts Dec. 22. The National Basketball Coaches Association discussed the changes in a call with the league Tuesday night.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich wore masks for games in the bubble this past summer, as did former Houston coach Mike D’Antoni and former New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry. They are all 65 or older, and at more risk of contracting the virus based on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, masks are a mandate for all coaches, regardless of age.