Houston Rockets star James Harden will be required to isolate until Friday and continue testing for coronavirus negatively before being cleared to return to the game, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The hardwood must be available to play against Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
Harden was fined $ 50,000 by the NBA and sentenced to “unavailable” for Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City Thunder due to a violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols after the league reviewed video of him socializing himself masklessly in a club earlier in the week.
Because the Rockets did not have the league-required eight available players needed to continue the game, the match against the Thunder was exposed.
Harden tested negative for COVID-19 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, a league source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
The video of the Harden partying maskless, which was published by Black Sports Online and has been circulating on social media, is reportedly from a law firm in Houston that was held this week.
The NBA’s COVID-19 protocol prohibits players from attending bars, lounges or clubs and from attending social gatherings with more than 15 people.
The league said Harden violated those rules when he attended a “private indoor party” Monday.
Harden has told NBA investigators he believed he complied with health and safety protocols, a source close to the situation told Shelburne. Harden and several witnesses at the event have told the league that he attended a seated dinner for a friend who had recently been promoted to work, the source told ESPN.
According to the source, Harden said he entered through a separate entrance and sat in a separate area of the room with his security detail and was wearing a mask. He took a picture with his friend and gave her a present. Harden, the source said, said he left after about 30 minutes and did not continue with the group, which later that night went to other places.
Harden, who has asked to be traded, violated the league’s COVID-19 protocols during his brief holdout at the start of training camp when he attended rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party in Atlanta and visited Las Vegas clubs. The league required Harden to have six consecutive days of negative coronavirus tests before clearing him to practice with the Rockets.
Sources told ESPN that Harden had COVID-19 over the summer before the NBA season restarts, which is why he reported late to the league’s Walt Disney World bubble. Players who have recovered from coronavirus must still follow the league’s health and safety protocols.