James Harden was among the Houston Rockets who could not play in what was scheduled to be the team’s season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Harden attended an indoor social gathering with friends, where he was spotted without a mask on.
As a result, he was not able to play on Wednesday. Due to another issue, that held out numerous players including John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins as potential close contacts, the Rockets did not reach the minimum threshold of players available to have the game.
Given the reckless nature of Harden’s offense, many were calling for the league to suspend the star guard. In a weird way, that might’ve played into Harden’s hands; he has made no secret of the fact that he wants out of Houston, and if he becomes more of a headache, it may help his cause.
Adam Silver appeared on ESPN’s The Jump, where Rachel Nichols asked him about the Harden situation. He said that because it was a first offense by Harden, it didn’t reach the level to where the league would suspend him, even with how wantonly he appeared to flout COVID-19 protocols.
Adam Silver, appearing on ESPN, said James Harden was not suspended because “The precedent is that discipline gets ratcheted up. It’s Christmas. It was a first offense.”
Silver said “in a way he got lucky.” If the game had been played, Harden would have been docked 1 game’s pay.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 24, 2020
James Harden was fined $50,000 or the violation. As Silver said, he lucked out in a way by avoiding a missed game. That would have meant a missed game check, which is worth $284,000 for Harden, given his impressive salary.
So far, he has tested negative for COVID-19 each of the last three days, which is good news. Hopefully the Houston Rockets won’t have to wait much longer to make their 2020-21 season debut.
The Rockets’ next scheduled game is on Saturday at the Portland Trail Blazers. That game is scheduled to tip off at 10 p.m. ET.
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