What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina discusses how mental health and the stresses of being inside the NBA bubble has become an issue players are talking about as the playoffs press on.
The “personal reasons” cited by the Houston Rockets for the absence of forward Danuel House Jr. in Tuesday’s Game 3 involve an alleged violation of the NBA’s campus “bubble” protocol, according to a report Wednesday night from ESPN.
Per ESPN, House has denied any wrongdoing, and the matter is currently being discussed between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. ESPN reported that House’s status for the remainder of the series against the Los Angeles Lakers was in jeopardy, pending the investigation. Due to COVID-19, any exposure to outside elements would require an extended self-quarantine period before that player would be allowed to rejoin his teammates and play in a game.
Prior to Game 3, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said the team practiced Monday with House and with no knowledge that he would be unavailable. The team did not elaborate on the reason for his absence, other than to say it was not due to a positive COVID-19 test.
From the ESPN report:
House, the Rockets’ sixth man, has denied any violation on a matter that has the league probing House’s activity within the team hotel, sources said. … House did not leave the perimeter of the campus, sources said.
The NBPA has been talking to league officials on House’s behalf and trying to find a resolution to the issue. … The NBA is believed to be considering whether House could be subjected to a 10-day quarantine period for an alleged violation, sources said.
Danuel House Jr. is averaging 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a game during the playoffs. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
At Wednesday’s practice, D’Antoni said the Rockets “haven’t heard yet” whether House would be available for Game 4 on Thursday, which seemed to signify that the decision would come from some other entity (such as the league office). Later in the day, House was officially listed as out, though that designation could be revised Thursday if he is cleared to play.
If he isn’t cleared, it would be a significant loss for the Rockets. With House unavailable off the bench, Jeff Green was the team’s only reserve to score during the Game 3 loss in which the Lakers bench outscored their Rockets counterparts 42-16.
In nine playoff games, House has averaged 11.4 points (35.8% on 3-pointers) and 5.8 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. He is among the most athletic and versatile options for the team’s switch-heavy defense.
In Sunday’s Game 2, the 27-year-old had 13 points and five rebounds and hit 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
The Rockets trail the second-round series 2-1, which makes Game 4 crucial. Historically, only 12 teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.