The Danuel House Dilemma
Disclaimer: This won’t be your typical light hearted 3 In The Key. I’m going to get my biases out of the way early. I’m a serious Rockets fan, critical of Adam Silver at every opportunity, and have the inclination to defend players against suspension whenever relevant because I believe NBA basketball is best when the best players are allowed to be on the court. With all of those things being said, the NBA’s handling of the Danuel House quarantine protocol dilemma is at the very least incompetent, and at the very worst, corrupt. Let’s dive in.
Danuel House is currently the first man off the bench for the Houston Rockets. In the playoffs House contributes 11/6/1 on 44% from the field and 36% from 3. House is no superstar, but on a team starving for swiss army knife type wing players, House has an important role for the Rockets. Red flags first arose surrounding the situation when House was deemed a late scratch for Tuesday’s Game 3 between Houston and Los Angeles. As tends to happen when a key rotation player is suddenly missing from the active roster, Houston lost Game 3 with House’s mysterious status looming as both teams got to work preparing for Game 4. Post-game, various Twitter accounts both small and large began circulating the un-supported rumor that House had tried to sneak in a person of unknown identity into Orlando. As I’ve come to learn with Twitter rumors, never take them at face value, but follow the smoke trail regardless.
On Thursday, Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon from ESPN confirmed that the NBA was investigating House’s alleged involvement in bringing a female COVID testing staffer into his hotel room at the Grand Floridian. The NBA reportedly has circumstantial evidence to implicate House, including “door data” that shows House’s door being opened and closed during the period the female staffer was inside the Grand Floridian. Even with this slight tidbit of information, the NBA’s allegation seems scant. House may have opened his door for an infinite number of reasons, maybe the temptation of hotel vending machines was too much to handle, maybe he ran out of ice and needed to make a light night run. We’ve all been there. Regardless, the leaked information from the NBA also includes denials of House’s contact with the female staffer from both Danuel House and the women in question. With no physical evidence, no video evidence, and outright denials from both parties it seems incredibly premature and nearly slanderous to run House’s name through the mud.
The larger issue with the NBA’s decision to “investigate” lies within the fact that they aren’t actually investigating anything. The NBA has already held House out of multiple practices, multiple playoff games, and likely tarnished his family life irreparably. These actions constitute a full on punishment, not a simple probe into a vague event. The NBA’s decision to hold House responsible and suspend him without investigation could easily be chalked up to over-reaction because of the coronavirus threat. This would, of course, be an acceptable decision except for the fact that other Rockets had contact with House after this alleged rendezvous and were then subjected to a “brief quarantine” before being allowed to take the court against the Lakers. As far as medical science knows, a “brief quarantine” would not fly as it pertains to eliminating the threat of spreading the virus. This behavior by the NBA would be wrong regardless of the season’s current circumstances, but handing down heavy handed punishment with a distinct lack of communication from the league office is wholly exacerbated during a period of crucial playoff games. I truly hope the NBA comes out with a statement and evidence that renders this entire column irrelevant, but as it stands, their response to this situation has eroded trust in the sanctity of the competition and in the competence of Adam Silver.