After Houston Rockets star James Harden was recently seen partying without a face mask prior to the 2020-2021 NBA season, other reports have emerged that he previously contracted a positive COVID-19 case prior to the seeding games and the playoff proceedings in the Orlando Bubble last summer.

Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“Sources told ESPN that Harden had COVID-19 during the summer before the NBA season restart, which is why he was late reporting to the league's Walt Disney World bubble. Players who have recovered from the coronavirus are still required to follow the league's health and safety protocols.”

Despite his late arrival on the campus, James Harden along with Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Rockets still managed to recuperate and patch their team chemistry on the floor after a long lay-off. The Houston-based squad was able to withstand a dynamic Oklahoma City Thunder team which stretched the opening round proceedings to seven games.

After a back-and-forth encounter in the series, the Rockets finally dispatched the Thunder and moved on to face the dominant Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets were eventually exposed by LeBron James and Anthony Davis as they both tore their small-ball schemes. Harden and the Rockets didn't stand a chance against the eventual champions and were bounced out of the playoffs with a 4-1 series loss in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Apparently, it also became the swan song of the James Harden era as turmoil eventually escalated within the team in the next couple of months. The franchise is also not getting any sort of commitment from the 2018 NBA MVP as he remains adamant on his desire to be traded to another team at some point in the future.

At this point, the Rockets are still aiming to pull through despite having a disgruntled star in James Harden at the helm amid all the uncertainties of the situation. Hopefully, both parties will still be able to find a solution to the growing disparity between them moving forward.