Houston Rockets’ star-player James Harden made Instagram posts which showed him attending rapper Lil Baby’s 26th birthday party, breaking the NBA’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Stephen Silas, Rockets’ newly appointed Head Coach, was expecting Harden to attend an individual practice on Sunday but Harden didn’t turn up, the Rockets’ guard has not been in recent contact with Silas.
Harden posted a cryptic Instagram story in the early morning before his scheduled first training session of the season.
Speaking on Harden’s absence, Silas said: “I would just say I want him here, and i want him to be a big part of what we are doing here. I’m excited to coach him and have him be a part of what we just had out there with a good practice, with a bunch of guys working hard.” Silas was appointed Rockets’ Head Coach after Daryl Morey left his long term role with the franchise.
Last month the NBA published a 134-page COVID-19 safety guide and recently banned players from going to clubs and indoor gatherings of 15 or more people. Harden’s breach of these rules meant he is unable to train with Houston for a week. In the last week of November 48 NBA players tested positive for COVID-19.
By breaching these rules Harden and the Rockets’ are now vulnerable to a variety of significant NBA punishments. A memo released by the NBA explained that teams could face “fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices and game forfeitures.” The 158-page health and safety memo continued that players who violate the league’s safety protocols, “may be subject to a proportionate adjustment of pay for any games missed.”
Since the Rocket’s elimination from the 2019/20 NBA playoffs, Harden has expressed his desire to leave the franchise after the departure of both Morey and after nine-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook left the Rockets last week in a trade deal to the Washington Wizards which saw John Wall go the other way.