Houston is still scheduled to play its first game Friday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers.
However, the Rockets will do so without John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon, or Mason Jones, all of whom are quarantined due to the NBA’s coronavirus contact tracing policies, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic. The four also will be out Monday for a game against Denver.
Houston also will be without Ben McLemore and K.J. Martin, who are not with the team and self-isolating after reportedly testing positive for the coronavirus (they will not be available for a couple of weeks at least). Wall and Cousins are sidelined because they went with other Rockets, including Martin (before his positive test), to get haircuts together in a Houston apartment.
The Rockets head to Portland with nine active players — that’s enough for the NBA to have the game go forward (eight active players is the magic number).
One of those players is James Harden, who is active for the game but a little poorer after a $50,000 fine for violating the league’s coronavirus safety guidelines. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver chose not to suspend Harden for the violation, noting it was a first offense.
Harden is still trying to force his way out of Houston via a trade, and Portland is one of his preferred destinations, but no deal appears imminent. A trade with Portland is highly unlikely unless Houston’s management radically changes what they are asking for a deal.
The Rockets take on a Trail Blazers team thrashed by the Jazz in their opener, after a rough preseason that included a couple of ugly losses to the Nuggets.