October 21, 2020

Russell Westbrook Says He Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, the N.B.A.’s most valuable player in the 2016-17 season, said on Monday in a social media post that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he received his test result before the team left for Walt Disney World in Florida, where the N.B.A. is attempting to restart its season.

“I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared,” Westbrook said in his statement. He added: “Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!”

Westbrook and Houston’s other star guard, James Harden, did not travel with the team on Thursday to the Walt Disney World campus. Luc Mbah a Moute, a veteran forward whom the Rockets signed this month, also did not make the trip. Coach Mike D’Antoni did not specify why, in comments to reporters over the weekend, but said he expected the players to arrive soon.

“These are things that people are dealing with,” D’Antoni said. “We’re not going to get into why not. They’re on their way.”

It was unclear when Westbrook would be able to join the Rockets or when his quarantine period began. According to the N.B.A.’s guidebook on health protocols, Westbrook will be allowed to join others on the campus when he tests negatively for the coronavirus in two separate tests at least 24 hours apart. He must also be cleared by a league-approved infectious disease physician and undergo a cardiac screening.

The Rockets were 40-24 and tied for fourth place in the Western Conference before the pandemic suspended the season in March. Westbrook, the team’s second-leading scorer, struggled with his shooting throughout the season, but still averaged 27.5 points a game, with eight rebounds and seven assists a game.

The N.B.A. also announced on Monday that two other players had tested positive for the coronavirus upon arriving in Florida. In total, 322 were tested, the league said in a statement. The two players, who were not identified, “never cleared quarantine and have since left the campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing.”

Shortly before the N.B.A. announced its findings, one player, Richaun Holmes of the Sacramento Kings, said that he had left the campus to pick up a food delivery order and now has eight days left in another quarantine.

Since July 1, according to the N.B.A., 19 players had tested positive for the coronavirus before arriving in Florida. That number includes players like Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan of the Nets, who are skipping the N.B.A. restart entirely as a result. Commissioner Adam Silver had said that the league expected more positive cases as players arrived on campus. But even so, Silver has expressed confidence that the N.B.A. season will be able to conclude and that players will be safer on campus than off.

“What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we had any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue,” Silver told Fortune this month.