Rockets stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins will miss Houston's season opener against the Thunder on Wednesday due to contact tracing protocols, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Rockets sent home Wall, Cousins and rookie Jae'Sean Tate on Wednesday after fellow rookie Kenyon Martin Jr. returned a positive COVID-19 test. A negative test followed Martin's positive result, and the team is awaiting the results of an additional test to confirm. Wall and Cousins reportedly have tested negative for the virus, but no additional details have been reported on Tate.
The team has added Martin to the NBA injury report, which lists him as "not with team/self-isolating."
A group of players, including Martin, Wall and Cousins, got haircuts together at a player's apartment on Tuesday evening away from the team's facility, reports Wojnarowski. That outing initiated the contact tracing protocols while the team waits for more testing on Martin.
On Tuesday, Houston announced reserve guard Ben McLemore is in self-isolation and will miss the opener. According to Wojnarowski, McLemore tested positive for COVID-19 "days ago."
The NBA's new contact tracing protocol allows the league to make decisions on possible timelines for return if players continue to test negative.
The Rockets' contact tracing concerns come as the team looks to move past their tumultuous offseason.
However, star James Harden's status for the game also is up in the air while the team works with the NBA office to review a video of him at a recent Christmas party held at a club. The date of the video, which circulated on social media via Black Sports Online earlier this week, is unconfirmed. If it is deemed to be recent, it could put the Rockets star in violation of the league's COVID-19 protocols.
According to ESPN'S Ramona Shelburne, Harden tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, the league was still reviewing his situation and eligibility for the opener.
Harden responded to the video on Wednesday afternoon.
"One thing after another. I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it's a problem [sic]," he wrote online. "No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can't."
As noted in the league's health and safety protocols, a failure to comply with protocols could result in individual disciplinary action by the NBA or team and could result in a warning, fine and/or suspension. The NBA's protocols prohibit players from visiting bars, lounges and clubs.