Why Did the NBA Postpone the Rockets-Thunder Game?

The 2020-21 NBA season started on Tuesday, with the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers beating the LA Lakers.

The Nets looked dominant with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the way, while the Warriors struggled without Klay Thompson–who is out for the season–and Draymond Green in the lineup next to two-time MVP Stephen Curry.

The Lakers received their 2020 championship rings at Staples Center but lost to the Clippers, who got 33 points from All-Star small forward Paul George. It’s only one game, though, so the Lakers aren’t too concerned about starting the season at 0-1.

The rest of the NBA was scheduled to play on Wednesday. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets won’t be taking the floor.

Contact tracing protocols caused the Rockets to send players home

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Contact tracing protocols forced the Rockets to send three players home on Wednesday before the Thunder game was supposed to start. Rookie Kenyon Martin Jr. returned a positive COVID-19 test and needed to be tested again for confirmation. Veteran forward Ben McLemore is also away from the Rockets after testing positive for the deadly virus.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, NBA stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins–along with Martin–were among Rockets players gathered at a player’s apartment away from the Houston facility getting haircuts. Wall and Cousins have tested negative for COVID-19. Both All-Stars weren’t going to play against the Thunder on Wednesday.

The NBA bubble worked perfectly at Walt Disney World since players were stuck in one place. There were zero positive COVID-19 tests once the games started in the bubble. It was always going to be incredibly difficult to ask every NBA player to abide by the COVID-19 protocols outside of the bubble.

Rockets superstar James Harden could be in major trouble

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James Harden was deemed unavailable for the Rockets-Thunder game by the NBA due to a violation of the health and safety protocols. The 2018 MVP was partying at a club without a mask on. The NBA’s COVID-19 protocols prohibit players from going to bars, lounges, or clubs.

According to ESPN, Harden attended a dinner for a friend and only stayed at the venue for 30 minutes. The three-time scoring champion, who has requested a trade from the Rockets, issued a statement on Instagram about the controversial dinner.  

“One thing after another. I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it’s a problem,” Harden said in the IG post. “Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real always end on top.”

After the NBA declared Harden unavailable for the Thunder-Rockets game, it is still unclear to both Harden and the Rockets how long the All-NBA shooting guard will be unavailable or whether he’ll face punishment from the league.

NBA postpones Houston-OKC game

The NBA announced that the Rockets-Thunder game has been postponed due to three positive/inconclusive COVID-19 tests and four players under quarantine. The Rockets don’t have the required eight available players to play a game.

When the 2019-20 season was suspended in March after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert contracted COVID-19, the Thunder were scheduled to play the Jazz the night the NBA suspended games. OKC must be experiencing some déjà vu.