Rockets-Thunder opener postponed after Houston runs out of available players

Matt Weyrich
·2 min read

Rockets-Thunder opener postponed after Houston runs out of players originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Houston Rockets do not have enough medically cleared players to compete in their season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, forcing the NBA to postpone Wednesday’s contest.

Teams are required to have eight players active for each game in order to be eligible to play. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, rookie KJ Martin Jr. tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday. He was exposed to several other teammates including John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, all of whom left team facilities together to get haircuts at an apartment.

“Three Houston Rockets players have returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus under the NBA’s testing program,” the NBA said in a statement. “Following the contact 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 other Rockets players were tested again today, and all returned negative results. Houston has one additional player who is unavailable due to injury.”

Harden is under investigation by the NBA after a video surfaced on social media of the point guard hanging out with a group of people without a mask. ESPN reporters named Mason Jones and Jae’Sean Tate as the other players who were sent home due to contact tracing protocols. The Rockets had already ruled out Ben McLemore on Tuesday after he was required to self-isolate.

The Rockets have had a tumultuous offseason. Star guard Russell Westbrook demanded a trade and ended up in Washington with the Wizards sending back Wall and a protected first-round pick. Harden has requested to be moved as well, but so far there’s been little reported traction toward a deal. The former MVP has made his displeasure with the situation clear, briefly holding out of training camp before the incident that cost him the chance to play Wednesday.

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