“I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared,” Westbrook wrote in his statement.
Westbrook had been one of three Rockets players who had yet to report to the Walt Disney World campus, along with former MVP James Harden and recently-signed forward Luc Mbah a Moute. It’s unclear whether Harden’s and Mbah a Moute’s absences are coronavirus-related or whether their arrivals have been delayed for other reasons. Head coach Mike D’Antoni said on Sunday that he expected the missing players to report within a few days.
Teams are permitted to replace players who contract COVID-19 with a substitute player. However, replaced players are ineligible to return for the rest of the season. With Westbrook said to be feeling well, there’s no reason for the Rockets not to wait for him to recover — his statement and D’Antoni’s comments suggest the team will do just that.
Assuming Westbrook is cleared to head to Orlando and report to the Rockets within the next week or two, he should still have plenty of time to ramp up before the playoffs begin on August 18.
Acquired last July in a blockbuster trade with the Thunder, Westbrook has had a strong first season in Houston, averaging 27.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 7.0 APG in 53 games (35.9 MPG). He has been particularly effective as a slasher and play-maker since the Rockets introduced their “micro-ball” lineup and will be counted on to play a key role if the club is to make a deep postseason run.