The Houston Rockets welcomed back John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon and Mason Jones for Wednesday’s workout ahead of the team’s matchup Thursday against the Sacramento Kings.
Wall, Cousins, Gordon and Jones missed Houston’s first two games as they advanced through a league-mandated seven-day quarantine due to “health and safety protocols.” All four will make their regular-season debuts Thursday night when the Rockets host the Kings at the Toyota Center.
“It was so good to just have everybody there,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “You obviously miss the talent and the ability that those guys have, but you also miss the personalities that they [have], and the smarts that they bring to these situations. During the film session it was great to have those guys chiming in and chirping as we go through the film. It was really, really good to have those guys back.”
Still, the Rockets aren’t yet totally whole with Ben McLemore and K.J. Martin continuing to advance through the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. Silas said he expects both to continue working through the weekend in the league’s coronavirus protocol.
The Rockets (0-2) opened the season against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday with limited lineup options due to six players on the official injury report listed as “out,” while they advanced through the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. Houston played its first two games against the Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets with nine players available, one more than the league’s minimum eight players required to play a game.
That came after the NBA postponed the team’s originally scheduled season opener on Dec. 23 against Oklahoma City because the Rockets lacked the minimum number of available players required to field a game day roster.
Wall expressed frustration about the protocols forcing him and teammates to miss seven days and two games while they quarantined away from the team.
“Well, I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was get a haircut in my apartment,” Wall said. “One of the teammates had tested positive the next day, and the next like four or five tests I had, they all came back negative. So, I was with me and three people getting haircuts. I’d rather [get a haircut] in my apartment than be in a barbershop somewhere where random people are just coming in constantly. Even the barber tested negative. So, it was a frustrating thing because I was getting ready for shootaround and had just worked out. I came back, they were like, ‘You’ve got to get off the court. You’ve got to go home for seven days and quarantine.’ I’m like, ‘What?’”
Cousins joked he “was excited” about quarantining before expressing his own frustration.
“It was tough. It’s tough in general to be sitting around for seven days, and no type of activity, just in quarantine,” Cousins said. “It’s tough for any person, but especially a professional athlete. Sitting at home for seven days straight, and then jumping back in a full-speed practice or game, there’s not a lot of positive things on that side. So, like I said, maneuver through (it), and just make the best of what you can.”
Cousins and the Rockets certainly need to Thursday as they seek their first win of the season after solid performances in losses, despite being shorthanded.
The team’s practice on Wednesday with an almost complete squad was “competitive,” according to Cousins.
“I think everybody’s excited to finally have the full group together just to see what we can do,” Cousins said. “It should be a good game tomorrow. We’re all excited.”
Silas mentioned he was still unsure whether he’ll limit minutes for Wall, Cousins and Gordon as they make their regular-season debuts. Jones suffered a sprained ankle during Wednesday’s practice, and sat out most of the workout.
“As far as the protocols that they’ve been going through, up to this point, they haven’t really been working out and being with the team,” Silas said. “It’s really hard to say what we’ll see tomorrow with those guys.”
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