One day into the condensed 2020/21 NBA season, a game has already been postponed due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The NBA has officially postponed the Rockets‘ opening-night game against the Thunder because Houston doesn’t have the mandated minimum of eight players available, the league announced in a press release.
Additionally, Chris Clemons is unavailable due to a torn Achilles and All-Star Rockets guard James Harden violated health and safety protocols by recently visiting a Houston club. As a result, Houston only has seven players available.
The NBA’s press release notes that Harden has been ruled “unavailable due to a violation of Health and Safety Protocols.” The Rockets and Harden haven’t received clarity from the league on whether this is an official suspension and, if so, what its duration will be, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The 31-year-old has thus far tested negative for the coronavirus Monday, Tuesday, and today.
[UPDATE: Harden fined $50K for protocol violation]
Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman tweets that the Thunder will now fly back to Oklahoma City. The club will then fly to Charlotte on Friday, ahead of a December 26 game against the Hornets. The status of the Rockets’ next scheduled game in Portland against the Trail Blazers, also on December 26, is now somewhat unclear.