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Rockets’ James Harden wasn’t suspended for breaking COVID-19 protocols

James Harden, Rockets

Houston Rockets guard James Harden was fined $50,000 by the NBA for breaking COVID-19 protocols after a video surfaced showing the All-Star at a party on Monday.

Harden was not suspended for his behavior though, even though he was in direct violation of the league’s health and safety measures.

However, that doesn’t mean Harden won’t miss games for his actions — and game checks.

The Rockets season opener with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday was postponed after Harden was deemed unavailable to rejoin his team, as were three of his teammates — John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, K.J. Martin — over COVID-19 concerns.

Harden has consistently tested negative, but his timeline for when he can return to his team remains up in the air.

Marc Stein of the New York Times broke down the situation in a Twitter thread on Wednesday night, and he explained why Harden isn’t facing a formal suspension from the NBA.

“Harden was not suspended in addition to the fine because violating the league’s health and safety guidelines invokes an additional quarantine period for players. The extra quarantine mandates those players will be docked game checks for any games missed while they are held out,” he wrote.

Stein notes that Harden was spared a docked check when the Thunder game was postponed. He points out that Lou Williams was not suspended after leaving the bubble and violating protocol, but lost two game checks while completing quarantine.

The league will dock players 1/72 of their season salary for each game missed, per Stein (in Harden’s case, that amounts to about $567,000). But, players are typically docked 1/145 of their salary for a suspension, meaning a quarantine for breaking COVID-19 protocol results in a financially stiffer penalty.

In other words, a forced quarantine caused by breaking protocol, for all intents and purposes, is essentially a suspension.