The NBA’s plan for holding its season amid a pandemic without the confines of a bubble are already being tested on the second day of the schedule.
A group of Houston Rockets will reportedly miss the team’s season opener on Wednesday night due to COVID-19 contact tracing, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported.
Several Houston Rockets, including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly more, are expected to miss tonight's season opener vs. OKC due to coronavirus contact tracing, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 23, 2020
The Rockets are scheduled to host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 p.m. ET. Charania reported that John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are in that group and “possibly more.”
Rockets contact tracing on day of opener
Adrian Wojnarowski reported that a positive test has initiated Wednesday’s contact tracing and the person is being re-tested. Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Kenyon Martin were part of a group getting haircuts at an apartment away from the team facility, per Wojnarowski. Rookie forward Jae’Sean Tate has also been sent home due to contact tracing, MacMahon reported.
The Rockets announced Tuesday night on their injury report that guard Ben McLemore is in “self-isolation” and will not play in the opener. They released an updated injury report Wednesday afternoon with Martin listed as self-isolating and Cousins as questionable with a right ankle sprain.
New Rockets additions to official NBA injury report:
Out: Kenyon Martin Jr. (Not With Team -- Self Isolating)
Questionable: DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle sprain)
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 23, 2020
Superstar James Harden is also in jeopardy of missing the opener due to his own COVID-19 related protocol issues.
Wall, Cousins might miss Rockets vs. Thunder
Wall and Cousins were to make their regular season debuts in Houston Rockets uniforms. Wall was traded to Houston from the Washington Wizards, who got Russell Westbrook in the deal. He missed the second half of the 2018-19 season and the entirety of last season due to a series of injuries.
Cousins missed all of last season with an ACL tear and did not play a game while on the Los Angeles Lakers roster. He signed with the Rockets in free agency. The duo are former teammates at Kentucky.
Harden’s maskless video under review by NBA
The league and team are reviewing social media video showing Harden at what is being called a strip club — though Harden denies it is one — without a mask and with others around. If it is recent footage, Harden faces COVID-19 protocol violations that include a possible suspension.
Harden has asked for a trade out of town to a team that can contend for a title.
The Harden situation and contract tracing absences will significantly shorten the team’s bench depending on how many players are ruled out. Houston doesn’t play again until Saturday when it travels to face the Portland Trail Blazers.
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