James Harden is missing from the NBA ‘bubble’ 10 days before the Rockets’ first game

James Harden. Chris Nicoll/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
  • UPDATE: James Harden joined the Houston Rockets in the Disney World bubble on Wednesday night.
  • James Harden has still not joined the Houston Rockets in the Disney World bubble, and the reason for his absence is unknown.
  • Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni had said he hoped to have Harden in by mid-week but had no update on Harden’s status on Tuesday.
  • According to a report from The Athletic, Harden is feeling well but may wait to travel to Orlando until Russell Westbrook, who tested positive for COVID-19, passes the tests and is able to travel.
  • The Rockets play their first scrimmage on July 24, with their first official game on July 31.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

UPDATE: James Harden joined the Houston Rockets in Disney World on Wednesday night. The reason for his absence wasn’t disclosed.

The NBA’s “bubble” experiment in Disney World is underway, but the Houston Rockets are still missing their franchise star.

As of Tuesday afternoon, James Harden was still not with the Rockets in the bubble. While head coach Mike D’Antoni had told reporters on Sunday that he hoped that Harden would be with the team by mid-week, D’Antoni didn’t have an update to provide on Tuesday.

“Do we have an update? Not really. I don’t know for sure.”

On Monday, Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, who also was not with the team in Orlando, announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Westbrook said he was feeling well and quarantining and hoped to join his team soon.

Likewise, newly signed Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute was not yet with the team in Disney.

D’Antoni had previously said, “These are things people are dealing with” in regards to the absences.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Rockets have not yet specificed why Harden is not with the team.

On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Harden was feeling well, working out, and could potentially travel to Disney with Westbrook once Westbrook passes the coronavirus test.

“Everyone around the Rockets is optimistic they will be able to get Westbrook and Harden into Orlando sooner than later,” Charania said.

Harden’s arrival is unclear, and while Westbrook said he was feeling fine, the severity or length of his case is unknown. Westbrook could pass a COVID-19 test soon, or it could take him weeks. Presumably, Harden wouldn’t wait to travel with Westbrook if Westbrook was having trouble passing the coronavirus test.

The Rockets officially resume their season on Friday, July 31, against the Dallas Mavericks. However, the 22 teams in the bubble begin scrimmages on July 22, their first NBA action in over four months. The Rockets’ first scrimmage is on July 24.

Time is pressing on, though, of course, the health of the players is more important than the basketball.

“They will be here as soon as the protocols get out of the way,” D’Antoni told reporters on Tuesday. “They’re anxious to be here. They’re doing what they need to do to stay in shape. This isn’t going to set us back. We’re not going to let it set us back. We’ll be ready to roll here in the next two or three weeks.”