After testing positive for COVID-19, Russell Westbrook is with the Houston Rockets in Orlando ahead of the NBA restart. It sounds like Westbrook has almost cleared the required isolation period and will be back on the court soon. The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani reported that Westbrook has a chance to practice with the Rockets on Wednesday, July 22.
“The #Rockets will not practice today. They will return to practice Wednesday, with the possibility that Russell Westbrook has cleared quarantine to join them,” Bijani tweeted.
Westbrook was scheduled to arrive in Orlando on Monday, July 21. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni admitted the team is “anxious” to get Westbrook back and does not anticipate the guard showing any long-term impact on the court as a result of the virus.
“Anytime you miss a key piece like that, it makes it a little bit more difficult but I know he’ll be ready,” D’Antoni noted, per The Athletic. “So on one side, we’re just anxious to get him—it’ll give everybody a little pep in their step. …Again, I don’t know for sure, but from the conversations, he’s been working and he feels good. If you look at Russell, I would say his worst day is probably as strong as anybody and in better shape than anybody we have. So I would think he’s gonna come here and be ready to go. I think it’s more timing and more basketball shape, not just being in shape. His body is great but he’ll just need to get his timing and that’s a process that we’ll work through.”
Both Harden & Westbrook Joined the Rockets Late in Orlando
The Rockets are becoming accustomed to late-arriving superstars. James Harden was also a late-arrival at Disney, but the All-Star cited family matters as the reason. Once Westbrook returns to practice, the Rockets will be close to full strength with both superstars suiting up.
Westbrook averaged 27.5 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and 1.7 steals per game before play was halted. Prior to the arrival of Harden and Westbrook, D’Antoni discussed the plan for practices as the Rockets ramp up towards the NBA’s restart.
“Well, last-second, last-shot plays, stuff like that, we’ll have to wait until we have a full complement [of players],” D’Antoni told NBA.com. “So, that, we’ll put in as Russell gets back here. But the rest of the stuff, we’ll go over it again. Guys could use a second dose of what we’re doing defensively, offensively. We just keep repeating it, and they’ll pick it up.”
If Westbrook is able to resume practice, it bodes well for the All-Star’s chances of playing when the season resumes. It will be interesting to see how D’Antoni handles the minutes for Westbrook and Harden in the early games.
Westbrook Admits That He & Harden Have Very Different Personalities
Since the Rockets acquired Westbrook, the duo has bonded off the court, but it has been an adjustment to the offense. During a February 2020 GQ interview, Westbrook and Harden discussed how each player has a different approach to the game.
“For me, in a game, I can lose it in a second,” Westbrook explained. “But him [Harden], in a game, somebody may push or foul him hard, he just kind of like goes with the flow. To me that’s a prime example of how you can’t get him outside of his box. If you do some shit like that to me, then I may…react.”