More Rockets games may be in jeopardy due to contact tracing among players

A day after the scheduled opening game of the 2020-21 regular season for the Houston Rockets was postponed due to COVID-19 issues, it became clear that further games could be in jeopardy, as well.

Wednesday’s postponement occurred because Houston fell below the roster minimum of eight active players, largely due to contact tracing among a group headlined by John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Their situation reportedly traces back to an extended haircut visit. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, that group is facing a seven-day quarantine, which would presumably last through next Tuesday, Dec. 29.

At the moment, Houston’s next scheduled games are set for Saturday, Dec. 26, in Portland and Monday, Dec. 28 in Denver. Even with the haircut group out, the Rockets were expecting to be back to at least eight active players with the return of James Harden, who the NBA allowed to exit his own quarantine (over a separate incident) by Saturday.

However, Charania reported late Thursday that due to a separate positive test for a staff member, more contact tracing was being performed involving guard Eric Gordon and others. That would potentially drop Houston below the minimum of eight active players again.

Due to a separate positive test for a Houston Rockets staff member, there is additional contact tracing being performed that involves guard Eric Gordon and others, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 25, 2020

The Rockets have several players — including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly more — currently facing seven-day quarantine per NBA contact tracing protocol, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 25, 2020

Among Houston’s 15 healthy players under contract. at least eight are known to be under some form of self-quarantine due to either a positive test or the possibility of exposure, determined via contact tracing. Those players are Ben McLemore, KJ Martin Jr., James Harden, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Jae’Sean Tate, Mason Jones, and Eric Gordon,

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As of Wednesday’s postponement, Gordon was not on that list. So while Harden’s projected return would allow the Rockets to play, if all else was equal, the loss of Gordon (and potentially others, per Charania’s report) would offset that and put them back in the same place.

In the worst-case scenario, Houston should have enough players to play by next Thursday, Dec. 31, since that’s outside the one-week window of the largest quarantine group. The Rockets are scheduled to host the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center on New Year’s Eve, in what was originally slated as the fourth game of their 2020-21 reular season.

But the games prior to that on Saturday and Monday would potentially be in jeopardy. As of late Thursday, the NBA had yet to make a formal announcement regarding the status of either game.


Reports: Test result by KJ Martin Jr. led to Rockets’ contact tracing lossesContact tracing to sideline John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins for Rockets


NBA: 2020-21 Houston Rockets roster

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