The Houston Rockets will get their star back, but won’t be at full strength for at least a couple more games. James Harden was cleared to play in Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Harden was fined $50,000 for violating COVID-19 protocols in the offseason. Because of that, he would not have been eligible to play in Wednesday’s season opener had the game gone on as planned. The game was postponed after the NBA determined the Rockets would not have eight players for the game due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
Harden was required to isolate until Friday under NBA rules. He has tested negative since the incident.
Rockets will be without DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall
While Harden will be back, the Rockets will play shorthanded. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon and Mason Jones won’t be available for the team’s next two games due to COVID-19 quarantine protocol, according to Shams Charania of ESPN.
All four players received seven-day quarantines. As a result, those four players won’t be eligible to play in Saturday’s game against theTrail Blazers or Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. All four players will be eligible to return when the Rockets take on the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. They are expected to return for that game, according to Charania.
Cousins and Wall are among a number of Rockets players who would have missed Wednesday’s season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cousins and Wall were reportedly ruled out before the NBA postponed the game.
Cousins and Wall began quarantining Thursday, according to Charania. Gordon also went in to quarantine at that time.
Rockets scheduled to play Saturday
With the news, the Rockets will have to play shorthanded against the Trail Blazers on Saturday. The contest — if played — will be the Rockets’ season opener. The Trail Blazers played their opener Wednesday, where they lost 120-100 to the Utah Jazz.
While the Rockets have already lost four players’ availability due to quarantine, the NBA has not indicated Saturday’s game will postponed. It’s possible that, despite those quarantines and positive COVID-19 tests, the Rockets will be able to field at least eight players for Saturday’s game.
The Rockets are set to take on the Trail Blazers at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday.
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