Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, whose positive COVID-19 test delayed his trip to the NBA restart bubble, rejoined the club Wednesday for his first team workout.
Westbrook was forced to quarantine for two weeks after testing positive, then arrived Monday and tested negative but still spent two days in isolation in his hotel room at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
While the league began scrimmage games Wednesday, Westbrook was adjusting to his first time on the court with NBA scoring leader James Harden and his other teammates.
“I’m just thankful and blessed to be able to go out and compete again,” Westbrook said. “Before I had to quarantine, I was in pretty good shape, so I should be all right.”
Westbrook said a stuffy nose was his only COVID-19 symptom and that he felt like he was able to stay in shape while in isolation.
“Just quarantining at home, trying to be productive, obviously not able to get on the basketball floor, but finding ways to kind of stay active and do as much conditioning I can probably do as far as that,” Westbrook said.
“I have to see if I can make a layup at this point. I got to start there and work my way from there.”
Westbrook, who joined the Rockets last July in a trade with Oklahoma City, probably will not play Friday in Houston’s first scrimmage against defending NBA champion Toronto after going through about 80% of the full workout, coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“We’ll wait the next two practices, see where he is, whether he wants to be thrown out there real quick or wants another couple of days,” said D’Antoni.
“Whatever he wants is cool. He knows his body. We’re not talking about a normal athlete. We’re talking about a super athlete.”
Westbrook was the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player after matching 1960s star Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average a triple double for an entire season, producing his first of three consecutive triple-double campaigns with a league-high 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.
Westbrook, who led the league in assists the past two seasons, averaged 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists over 53 games for the Rockets when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the NBA season March 11.
At 40-24, the Rockets are sixth in the Western Conference entering the final eight regular-season games to be played without spectators in the NBA bubble. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot but would like to take a higher seed for the NBA playoffs that begin next month.
Houston is still missing Cameroon forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who was due to arrive soon in Orlando after being signed two weeks ago. The African standout played only four games last season, his 11th in the NBA, after a left knee injury.