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NBA postpones Thunder season opener

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes their hands are tied and for the NBA that’s where they are at as they postponed tonight’s season opener for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Houston Rockets do not have enough players to suit up  to make tonight’s game happen. NBA rules dictate at least eight players, at minimum, must be available. Due to quarantining and contact tracing, the Rockets are well below that number.

“Three Houston Rocket players have returned tests were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus under the NBA’s testing program,” The NBA said in a press release. “Following the contact tracing protocol, four others are quarantined at this time. Additionally, James Harden is unavailable due to violation of the Health and Safety Protocols.”

That left the Rockets with only seven players available, forcing the postponement of tonight’s contest.

According to ESPN, Harden was found to be at a club without a mask, which violated the league’s policy. While Harden did test negative Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. However, the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols prohibit players from going to bars, lounges or clubs and from participating in social gatherings of more than 15 people.

Harden told NBA investigators he felt he was in compliance and was not at a strip club.

According to the health and safety protocols, failure or refusal to comply could subject a player to disciplinary action by the NBA or his team, including a warning, fine and/or suspension, as well as being required to participate in an education or training session. Repeat offenders may be subject to enhanced discipline.

A suspension would cost Harden $284,517 per game, which is 1/145th of his salary.

Oklahoma City has been in these unique, historic games… well not even games, before. They were set to play in the game that sent the sports world spiraling as two Utah Jazz players tested positive for COVID-19 and ensued the shutting down of sports for months.

Now, they’re back in it again with tonight’s postponement.

This game will be played as the teams and television providers have contractual obligations to meet. In most seasons they have to air 70 games or there is some payment back to the television providers, or in this game, Fox Sports for the Thunder and Comcast for Houston.

The Thunder are now scheduled to open their season against LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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