The season-opening match between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder has been hit with several blows. The game has been postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests and a protocol violation by James Harden, who has also been fined $50,000 by the NBA.

The match was supposed to take place on Wednesday night, but was unable to push through because the Houston Rockets were unable to field the required number of players. The league requires at least eight players on the lineup before a team can be allowed to play.

Unfortunately, three Rockets players returned positive or inconclusive COVID-19 test results, while another four were required to be isolated after contact tracing revealed that they had been exposed to confirmed cases.

Harden was also deemed "unavailable" after video footage of him surfaced, which shows a violation of the league's COVID-19 protocols.

He was seen socialising without a face covering during an event hosted by a female friend who was celebrating a promotion earlier this week. However, the NBA made it clear that Harden will not be suspended. It is unclear how long he will be required to quarantine before being allowed to rejoin the team.

In a statement shared by ESPN, the NBA said Harden was "unavailable due to a violation of the Health and Safety Protocols." According to the NBA's protocols, players are prohibited from attending social gatherings of more than 15 people. Worse, Harden was seen without a facemask during the outing

Fortunately, Harden is believed to have tested negative for COVID-19 during tests conducted on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Unconfirmed reports say that Harden was already infected by the novel coronavirus back in the summer before the 2019-20 season restart. This season, stakes are high for those who miss games due to violations of COVID-19 protocols. Apart from the fine, Harden is set to lose 1/72nd of his salary for every game missed. For Harden, that's a whopping $572,985 per game missed.

James Harden
Houston Rockets player James Harden Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images