“It’s a highly unusual time and we have to take that into account,” he added later.

Video of the disgruntled star surfaced on social media, where he was shown without a mask at a crowded party in a private event space Monday night. Harden, in a since-deleted Instagram post, explained why he was at the event.

James Harden should be available for the Rockets' rescheduled match.

James Harden should be available for the Rockets’ rescheduled match.Credit:Getty Images

He wrote: “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 a position of success and now it’s a problem. Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real people always end up on top.”

Harden was actually lucky, Silver said. The 31-year-old would have missed out on a game day pay cheque if Wednesday’s fixture had gone ahead, which would have been a larger sanction.

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Instead, Harden will isolate until Friday (Saturday AEDT) and likely be available for the team’s new season opener the next day in Portland.

“Nothing about this was predictable or ideal,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said Thursday after his team’s practice in Oklahoma City.

The NBA and the Players Association said that of the 558 players tested for COVID-19 since December 16, two have returned positive tests.

“Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test is isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance,” the NBA and the association said in a joint statement.



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