Santa has brought James Harden a very special gift this year: no suspension for violating the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols and contributing to the postponement of his team’s first game of the season.
The Houston Rockets star was not suspended by the NBA for “attending a private indoor party” with more than 15 people, which is in violation of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and was instead fined $50,000. Photos and a video surfaced that showed Harden was not wearing a mask at the party, which allegedly took place at a strip club (which Harden has denied).
An offense like that seems pretty serious since it appears that Harden knowingly broke the NBA’s rules. So why wasn’t he suspended? NBA commissioner Adam Silver appeared on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Thursday to explain.
Adam Silver, appearing on ESPN, said James Harden was not suspended because "The precedent is that discipline gets ratcheted up. It’s Christmas. It was a first offense."
Silver said "in a way he got lucky." If the game had been played, Harden would have been docked 1 game's pay.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 24, 2020
Silver’s heart was softened by the Christmas holiday. And also because this was Harden’s “first offense” of the season, which is barely two days old.
It's never a dull moment when the Commissioner joins #TheJump. Adam Silver makes his first public comments on the James Harden fine, why the league didn't issue a suspension, and the postponement of the Rockets-Thunder game last night: pic.twitter.com/bdFpEI4b5H
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) December 24, 2020
Harden is lucky it’s Christmas, because a less festive time of year might have caused Silver to remember that Harden was late to Rockets training camp because he was allegedly partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas without a mask, as seen in a video and several photos on his Instagram. If Silver had taken that into account and decided to suspend Harden, that would have cost him his salary for one game, which is around $500,000.
Harden better be leaving Santa an impressive spread of cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. He owes him big time.
Report: Harden now open to Celtics, Blazers trade
Harden has made it clear that he wants out of Houston this season, though he initially gave a very limited list of teams he’d find acceptable.
Now, it seems, his list of preferred destinations is growing.
Harden, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, is now open to deals that send him to the Boston Celtics or the Portland Trail Blazers. He had initially said that he was only interested in the Philadelphia 76ers or the Brooklyn Nets, though later expanded his list to add the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat have reportedly since moved on.
Whether either the Celtics or the Trail Blazers are interested in a possible deal for Harden — especially after his latest incident — is unclear.
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