Wednesday's season opener between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder has been postponed after the Rockets revealed their team did not have enough eligible players due to restrictions. The postponement could be a sign of an incredibly rocky season to come for the National Basketball Association.
Three Rockets players either tested positive or received inconclusive test results, the NBA said in a statement. Due to the combination of positive test results, players ruled out from contact tracing and injured players, Houston would not have had the required eight eligible players for Wednesday's game.
Rockets players John Wall and Demarcus Cousins were both sent home, ineligible to play in Wednesday's game, according to CBS Sports. While neither of the players tested positive for COVID-19, contact tracing put them in close contact with another positive player. Two other Rocket players are quarantined due to contact tracing.
Fan favorite James Harden is also unavailable to play due to what the NBA called a "violation of health and safety protocols." In a video he posted on social media, Harden was seen unmasked at a local club. Harden's presence at the club violated the NBA's COVID-19 protocols, which prohibit players from attending lounges, clubs and parties with more than 15 people.
According to the NBA, all other Rocket players were tested Wednesday and received negative test results. The league has yet to reschedule the game.
The 2020-2021 season began Tuesday night, less than three months after the previous season's Finals ended. Following a postponement in March brought on by the pandemic, the NBA completed the 2019-2020 season in a bubble in Orlando, Florida. But no bubble will be implemented for the current season, and all eyes are on the NBA to see if teams can compete safely while out in the real world.
The Rockets are the first team to have an outbreak so far.
To aid with the inevitable COVID-19 re-scheduling, the NBA has only scheduled 72 regular season games, instead of the usual 82. The league has also only released the first half of the schedule, as more outbreaks could completely rewrite the second half of the year.
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