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Harden back with Rockets, COVID-19 testing

James Harden reported to Houston Rockets training camp on Tuesday and took his first COVID-19 test, coach Stephen Silas said.

Harden took his test at the Toyota Center, ending a two-day holdout and adding another chapter to the saga that began when he turned down a record extension from the Rockets last month and instead asked for a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

“That’s pretty much all I know,” Silas said. “Him getting tested is good for everybody.”

Harden needs to test negative for the virus for two days before he can begin practicing with the team.

Silas, the Rockets’ rookie head coach, had not yet spoken with Harden, according to reports.

Silas said Monday that there was “no timetable” for Harden’s return.

“Trust is built day to day, and once the relationship begins, we’ll begin that process of trust,” Silas told reporters Tuesday.

“Obviously there wasn’t a great start to it, but that’s the NBA. The NBA is not going to be roses every day.”

Also on Tuesday, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta addressed the Harden situation on CNBC.

“James Harden wants to win a ring during his period as a basketball player,” Fertitta said.

“I think that’s wonderful that he’s going to do it, and hopefully he’ll do it with the Houston Rockets. … We’ve done nothing but gotten better in the off-season.”

The news comes hours after reports that Harden expanded his trade targets to include Philadelphia, though the 76ers are unwilling to part with stars Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid.

Harden showed up at Toyota Center on Tuesday sporting a 76ers jersey.

It’s unclear why Harden missed the first two days… his absence fuelling speculation of his discontent in Houston.

The Rockets are in the midst of camp after an off-season that saw coach Mike D’Antoni leave in September, general manager Daryl Morey leave in October, and Russell Westbrook traded to the Washington Wizards for guard John Wall and a future first-round draft pick in December.

Harden, under contract through the 2021-22 season, is entering his ninth season with the Rockets, has led the NBA in scoring each of the past three campaigns.

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