James Harden could be eligible to play in Rockets’ opener after quarantine

James Harden’s activities have caused quite a kerfuffle for the Houston Rockets, but things could be back to normal in just a few days — whatever “normal” means for the Rockets right now.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harden must continue to test negative for COVID-19 and isolate until Friday, but if he does he should be eligible to play in what will be the Rockets’ first game of the season on Saturday.

Rockets guard James Harden will be required to isolate until Friday and continue to test negative for the coronavirus before being cleared to return to play, sources tell ESPN. He should be available to play Saturday vs Blazers.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 24, 2020

The NBA announced on Wednesday that Harden was being fined $50,000 for violating the protocols by attending a “private indoor party” on Dec. 21, which is also why he’s being required to quarantine. A video circulating on social media showed a maskless Harden allegedly at a strip club, but Harden has denied that’s where he was.

Saturday wasn’t supposed to be the Rockets’ first game of the season, but it is now after their original season opener on Wednesday was postponed.

James Harden should be cleared in time to play in the Rockets’ new season opener. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)COVID issues led to postponement of season opener

Harden’s alleged strip club jaunt wasn’t the only reason the Rockets’ season opener had to be postponed on Wednesday. Seven other players were unable to take the court due to the NBA’s COVID protocols.

John Wall, Kenyon Martin Jr., and DeMarcus Cousins were among a group of players who reportedly gathered at an apartment for haircuts on Tuesday night. A positive test prompted contact tracing, which led to three players returning either a positive or inconclusive COVID test result and four other players being quarantined. Wall, Martin, Cousins, and rookie Jae’Sean Tate were reportedly part of the group of seven players.

With eight players out, the Rockets literally couldn’t field a team for their season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA announced the postponement just hours before the game was scheduled to tip off.

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