JANUARY 12: Players who miss games due to COVID-19 protocol violations will actually forfeit 1/81.6th of their salary for 2020/21, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
DECEMBER 24: When an NBA player is suspended, he generally loses 1/145th of his salary for each game he misses. A long-term suspension of 20 games or more forces the player to forfeit 1/110th of his salary per game. The penalty for missing a game this season due to a violation of COVID-19 protocols is even more severe.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), the NBA will dock a player 1/72nd of his salary for each game he misses as a result of violating the league’s coronavirus protocols. The number is based on the 72-game season.
This penalty would have applied to James Harden if the Rockets‘ game against the Thunder had been played on Wednesday night, since the NBA determined the former MVP violated health and safety protocols by attending an indoor party of 15 or more people.
However, that opening-night contest was postponed because several other Rockets players were unavailable due to positive or inconclusive tests (or subsequent contact tracing) and the club didn’t have eight healthy players available. Since the game will be rescheduled, if possible, Harden didn’t technically miss it. As such, he was instead hit with a $50K fine by the NBA.
It’s not yet known how many negative coronavirus tests Harden will have to return before he’s cleared by the NBA to play following his COVID-19 protocol violation. If he hasn’t yet received clearance for the Rockets’ game on Saturday in Portland, it would cost him significantly more than $50K — 1/72nd of his $41,254,920 salary works out to $572,895 in lost money for each game he misses due to a protocol violation.
Harden is one of the NBA’s highest-paid players, so even though the 1/72 ratio applies to everyone equally, only a small handful of other stars would lose as much as $573K per game for violating the NBA’s health and safety protocols. A player earning the rookie minimum of $898,310, for instance, would be docked $12,477 for each game missed.