The Houston Rockets may be very shorthanded for their season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night due to COVID-19 contact tracing, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly more names could be sidelined for Houston, which has been a mess the past week with the start of the season approaching. James Harden is dealing with an investigation for attending a strip club without a mask, per ESPN. Now this whole thing could mean most of the Rockets lineup is out to start the season.
Several Houston Rockets, including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly more, are expected to miss tonight's season opener vs. OKC due to coronavirus contact tracing, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 23, 2020
Update: The Rockets are on track to have at least eight eligible players for tonight’s opener vs. the Thunder, per Woj. He does mention that the Rockets are cutting it close tonight. James Harden tested negative for Covid-19 but is still being reviewed by the League as to whether he’ll be allowed to play tonight. This is pretty much a mess.
League rules mandate that the Houston Rockets have eight eligible players to start the game vs. OKC tonight, and so far, it appears they'd have enough to do that. Still, the Rockets could be cutting it close.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 23, 2020
Update: Ben McLemore is going to be out because he is in isolation right now, per Adrian Wojnarowski. Cousins is also being considered questionable due to an ankle injury, per Tim MacMahon. It was also reported that KJ Martin is the player all of this contact tracing is linked to for the Rockets. Cousins has actually tested negative for Covid-19, per reports.
As Rockets disclosed yesterday, Ben McLemore is in self-isolation and out for tonight's game vs. OKC. McLemore tested positive for the coronavirus days ago, sources said, and has been in isolation. He isn't the teammate whose positive test initiated contact tracing today on team. https://t.co/VCH4pAVm2e— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 23, 2020
So Wall and Cousins are expected to be out with other names, which could include James Harden. We can’t really make any adjustments to lineups or decide who will be strong value plays at the end of the day because we don’t know who else will be ruled out. Initially, if it’s just Wall, Cousins and maybe Harden, Eric Gordon, Ben McLemore and Sterling Brown figure to benefit a decent amount. Christian Wood could end up being the featured offensive weapon if all three former All-Stars are sidelined.
The thing that makes this tough to react to in sports betting is, even with all these guys out for the Rockets, do we really want to go all-in on the Thunder to easily cover a spread or win this game? OKC could end up being the worst team in the NBA this season. If anything, you’d need to try and find the player prop market somewhere and take advantage of that, but most sportsbooks will take something like that down.