Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, at 5:30 p.m: The Houston Rockets saw their season opener with the Thunder tonight postponed just hours before tip-off because of COVID contact tracing connected to rookie Kenyon Martin Jr., according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Rockets do not have the league-required eight players eligible to play according to the league.
Here’s a statement from the NBA:
The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Three Houston Rockets players have returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus under the NBA’s testing program. 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.
As such, the Rockets do not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Martin Jr. tested both positive and negative for COVID in a span of 24 hours, and is now waiting for the results of an additional test to confirm his diagnosis.
Woj reported later that Houston stars John Wall, and DeMarcus Cousins were with the rookie when they decided to get haircuts away from the facility.
Wall and Cousins have both tested negative. Houston sent a group of players home that were connected to Martin Jr., including Wall, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are working with the NBA to investigate whether their star James Harden was recently at a social event with strippers without a mask on. (It appears he was.)
Harden took to his Instagram story to tell his side of the story early on Wednesday. The former MVP says that he didn’t attend a strip club but was at a friends event.
“Everyday it’s something different,” said Harden. “No matter how many times you try to drag my name under you can’t.”
Whether or not Harden was at a strip club doesn’t matter, considering that social events of more than 15 people are prohibited by this year’s NBA COVID protocols.
The fact that Harden was also maskless at the event brings in even more concern. Harden had tested positive for COVID this summer before going to the NBA bubble in Orlando.