Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook shed some light Monday regarding his absence from the team at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Walt Disney World Resort by revealing he tested positive for Covid-19 prior to the club’s departure for Orlando, Fla.
“I tested positive for Covid-19 prior to my team’s departure to Orlando,” Westbrook wrote. “I’m currently feeling well, quarantined and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!”
Houston participated in their second practice at the Walt Disney World bubbled without Westbrook, James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute, who is in his second stint with the Rockets after signing with the team on Jul. 7.
The team and coach Mike D’Antoni over the weekend had declined to discuss specifics regarding the absence of Houston’s players, saying only that they were all working out on their own and expected to rejoin the team sometime this week.
“Although I did have one year of pre-med, I don’t know when it’s going to happen,” D’Antoni said Monday in a Zoom session with reporters. “They’ll be here as soon as protocols get out of the way. They all are anxious to get here. They’re doing what they need to do to stay in shape. This is not going to set us back. We’re not gonna let it set us back. We’ll be ready to roll here in the next two or three weeks.”
The statuses of Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute remain unknown, and it’s still not clear exactly where Westbrook is in the league’s COVID-19 testing protocol. Per the NBA’s protocol, Westbrook would be tested daily. When Westbrook produces two negative tests, he can join the team at Walt Disney World. Upon arrival, Westbrook would then need to undergo additional COVID-19 testing and an additional two-day self-quarantine.
“They’re working out on their own, and they’re gearing up,” D’Antoni said. “When they get here, I think they’ll be able to hit the court running, which will be huge. We’ll be careful.
“But I know Russ personally. He has been so good about everything that we try to do, first with the film room, paying attention, asking good questions, speaking up in the locker room when he needs to. So he’s been a great leader, a great teammate. That’s all you can ask [for]. I know him. This is killing him not to be here. It’s an obstacle that he has to overcome, and there’s nobody better equipped to overcome it than him.”
The Rockets are preparing to participate in scrimmage games later in the week, and D’Antoni addressed the media Monday following a light practice.
Westbrook, the Kia MVP winner in 2016-17, is averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game with Houston. The Rockets are 40-24 and the current No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
The Rockets open their NBA restart schedule on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.
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