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#pounditSaturday, July 31, 2021

Several Rockets players to miss season opener due to COVID-19 tracing

John Wall

The Houston Rockets are set to open their season on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they are expected to be without several key players.

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly some other Rockets players will not play against OKC due to COVID-19 contact tracing, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. While James Harden’s status is not yet clear, many are wondering if he is the root of the problem.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the issue is a Rockets player tested positive for the coronavirus. That player is not Wall, but Wall was among several players who were sent home after being deemed close contacts. The player is being tested again to confirm the initial positive COVID-19 result.

Harden had COVID-19 over the summer, which is why he was late to the Orlando bubble.

Harden was captured on video this week partying at what was initially believed to be a strip club. The video was reportedly from Monday night. Harden addressed the incident on his Instagram story Wednesday, saying he was not at a strip club but did attend an event for a friend who was celebrating a job promotion.

Strip club or not, Harden may have violated the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, which prohibit players from going to bars, lounges, clubs or social events with more than 15 people. He also was not wearing a mask.

This obviously is not the start to the 2020-21 season the Rockets were hoping for. They have had to deal with the Harden drama for weeks now, and it sounds like things are getting tense between the former MVP and his teammates. Houston’s season may be doomed from the start.

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