(Houston) The James Harden soap opera now includes a postponed game, pushing back what was to be the start of the Rockets’ season.
Houston was scheduled to play against the Thunder on Wednesday, but the Rockets no longer had the required minimum of eight players available to face Oklahoma City at Toyota Center.
This is due to cases of coronavirus and a breach of protocols on the part of Harden, in connection with the pandemic.
The latter is also fined $ 50,000.
It’s a blow for the NBA, whose season started on Tuesday, with two games.
Three Rockets players have had positive or inconclusive test results. Four others must go into isolation, related to contact tracing.
Harden was unavailable because he violated health and safety protocols.
On social media, a video has circulated where the disgruntled star is at a crowded party without a mask on Tuesday night.
The 31-year-old was already a source of distraction with the Rockets over his wish to be traded, a request dating back a few months already.
NBA protocols state that players should not be in large indoor gatherings (15 or more people).
They should also not frequent bars, lounges, clubs or other such places, such as places where arts and shows take place.
In a post on Instagram, since withdrawn, Harden explains in a way that suggests he has violated protocols.
He then wrote: “One thing after another. I went to show my affection for this girl at her event (not in a nude dance bar) because she becomes a boss and promotes the success of her people, and now it’s becoming a problem
“Every day is something different. No matter how often we try to tarnish my name, it doesn’t work. Real people always end up at the top. ”
A member of eight all-star teams, Harden led the NBA with an average of 34.3 points per game, in 2019-20.
He may have to self-isolate and be deprived of about $ 280,000 for every missed game.
The Rockets’ next game is scheduled for Saturday in Portland.
The Thunder and the Rockets were to cross swords for the first time since September 2, in the bubble.
In a game number 7 in the first round, Harden blocked a long-range shot from Luguentz Dort in the dying moments and the Rockets advanced on the board, winning the game 104-102.
The Thunder should start the season Saturday night in Charlotte.