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Rockets’ season opener vs. Thunder postponed after COVID-19 scare for Houston

Rockets, Thunder, COVID-19

The Houston Rockets are currently managing a potential COVID-19 outbreak after several players went to the same barber for a haircut.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Wednesday night’s 2020-21 season opener for both Houston and the Oklahoma City Thunder is in “jeopardy of postponement” as the NBA scrambles to test players and verify they are negative for the coronavirus.

Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report the game will be postponed, with Wojnarowski shortly afterward confirming.

New Rockets John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins along with rookie Kenyon Martin Jr. all went to the same barber in an apartment away from the team. Jae’Sean Tate—the same player who had a ball thrown at him by star James Harden a few days ago in practice—is also self-isolating due to contact tracing.

Harden, however, who has been accused of attending a maskless party in the last week, is not involved and also has tested negative for COVID-19 on all of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The former MVP shooting guard was initially away from the Rockets claiming to be training elsewhere before finally rejoining the team before the end of the preseason.

Harden would have been unavailable anyway, per Charania, due to his violation of the health protocols.

The NBA stipulates that a team needs eight active players to not forfeit a game; the Rockets are making it close with several players sitting at home waiting for the results of multiple days of tests to come back negative ahead of their first regular-season game of the 2020-21 campaign. The Thunder were eliminated by the Rockets in seven games in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs back in August.

The Thunder were involved in another high-profile COVID-19 scare back on March 11 when, due to Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus pregame, that evening’s OKC-Utah game was called off, causing a cascading effect of multiple leagues canceling seasons.