Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook announced in a now-deleted Instagram post on July 13 that he tested positive for COVID-19. He planned on heading to Orlando to join his team in the NBA bubble, but the diagnosis initially delayed the journey. One week later, he is heading to Florida.
According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni confirmed that Westbrook will land in Orlando on Monday. This does not mean that he can immediately rejoin James Harden and his teammates, however. Westbrook will still have to spend two days in mandatory quarantine once he arrives inside the bubble. Additionally, he will have to test negative for the coronavirus twice. Only then can he join his team for practice sessions.
"I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my team's departure to Orlando," Westbrook wrote on Instagram on July 13. "I'm currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I'm cleared. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up! #whynot."
When Westbrook first confirmed the coronavirus test, the fans reacted with a number of reactions. Several expressed concern and hoped that the Rockets star would soon display full health. Others, however, made comments about Westbrook recently taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Compton, California. Westbrook joined a massive group of people to protest police brutality, but he was not wearing a mask. One Twitter user tweeted a photo of this moment and wrote, "Russell Westbrook (rightly) telling people to wear a mask now. Look, I'm just saying..."
The Rockets have three scrimmages on the schedule, including a first on July 24. It's unclear if Westbrook will suit up for the first session or any of the other two. The Rockets' first game is on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks. Losing this game to Mark Cuban's team could drop the Rockets to the seventh seed, setting up a match with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook is arguably one of the team's biggest stars considering that the Rockets went 6-5 without him in the lineup during the 2019-20 season. The five losses came against teams struggling to get wins, all of which were under .500. This includes the Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Hornets. If the Rockets plan on potentially defeating the Los Angeles Lakers and other top teams, they will need Westbrook ready to perform.