Rockets’ Westbrook has virus, as NBA bubble faces first test

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) — Houston’s Russell Westbrook hasn’t made it to the NBA restart yet.

The coronavirus did — but health protocols seemed to work as the league and its players hoped they would.

On a day of troubling news for the league — Westbrook revealing that he has tested positive for the virus and two other players facing 10-day quarantines for leaving the league campus perimeter at Walt Disney World — it was also announced that two players tested positive for the virus after arriving in Central Florida last week.

But neither of those positive players ever made it out of quarantine, so neither entered the so-called bubble and could mingle freely with other players, coaches and staff. The NBA said both players, neither of whom were identified, “have since left the Campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing.” They could rejoin their teams later.

“Our protocols are unbelievable,” said Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, one of the players who helped craft the restart rules. “I think our protocols and our health and safety measures have been top-notch. I think this thing will work perfectly… We’re doing everything that we can possibly do to make sure that we’re healthy, we’re safe and we’re in an environment where we can be successful and do our jobs at a high level.”

File photo shows Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook dribbling next to Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. PHOTO: AP

It’s unclear when Westbrook will arrive. As recently as Sunday, the Rockets believed that Westbrook, NBA scoring leader James Harden and newly re-acquired Luc Mbah a Moute — none of the three travelled with the team to Walt Disney World near Orlando last week — would be with the team in the next few days.

In Westbrook’s case, that now seems most unlikely.

“I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my teams departure to Orlando,” Westbrook wrote on his social media channels. “I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to re-joining my teammates when I am cleared.”

The arrival dates for Harden and Mbah a Moute are murky as well. Neither player has revealed why they aren’t at Disney, and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni would only say that “these are things that people are dealing with.” D’Antoni said Westbrook had taken part in individual workouts when they were permitted back in Houston, but declined to elaborate further on the guard’s condition. He also isn’t sure when the missing Rockets will arrive.

“I did have one year of pre-med,” D’Antoni said. “But I don’t know when it’s going to happen. As soon as protocols get out of the way… they’re all anxious to get here and they’re doing what they need to do to stay in shape. This is not going to set us back. We’re not going to let it set us back, and we’re going to be ready to roll here in the next two, three weeks.”