Wednesday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder has been postponed due to COVID-19 precautions, the league announced. For several different reasons, the Rockets will not have eight eligible players, which is the minimum required to play a game.
Below is the league’s press release:
The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety protocols.
Three Houston Rockets players have returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus under the NBA’s testing program. Following the contract tracing protocol, four other players are quarantined at this time. Additionally, James Harden is unavailable due to a violation of the Health and Safety Protocols. All orther Rockets players were tested again today, and all returned negative results. Houston has one additional player who is unavailable due to injury.
As such, the Rockets do not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Early on Wednesday morning, news broke that the league was investigating Harden after videos showed him at a birthday party for a friend. Harden believed he didn’t violate any protocols since he was only there for 30 minutes, but he interacted with numerous people without a mask, which is why the league disagreed. While he did test negative, he was still unavailable for the game due to the COVID-19 protocols.
In addition, a separate group of players were sent home from practice due to concerns about a possible COVID-19 spread. Rookie KJ Martin tested positive and had recently been getting haircuts with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Mason Jones and Jae’Sean Tate. Martin subsequently tested negative and is awaiting the results of yet another test. Both Wall and Cousins also tested negative, but are still being held out to ensure proper contact tracing procedures are followed.
The Rockets are also currently without Ben McLemore, who previously tested positive for COVID-19, and Chris Clemons, who tore his Achilles tendon during the preseason.
This was set to be the season opener for both teams. The Rockets are scheduled to play again on Saturday against the Trail Blazers, while the Thunder’s next game is also on Saturday against the Hornets. It’s unclear if either of those contests will be affected.