Russell Westbrook revealed on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, which is why he did not travel with the Houston Rockets to Orlando to enter the bubble last week.
Westbrook, who is currently at home in quarantine, reported he feels good and isn’t showcasing any symptoms, so he hopes to join his teammates in the bubble once he is cleared to do so.
An extended absence for one of the league’s best players has the potential to have a major impact on Houston’s season going into the playoffs, especially with seeding on the line in the eight games leading up to the postseason. While the team is hopeful Westbrook will return before the playoffs, any games missed will make it more difficult for the Rockets, currently the 6 seed in the West to secure their ideal playoff spot and matchup.
Yesterday on The Jump, Paul Pierce was asked how Westbrook’s absence could become a problem for the Rockets playoff chances. Pierce had an optimistic response to the matter.
“It won’t be an issue unless they don’t have him for the playoffs,” said The Truth. “Right now, they’re jockeying for position, and, in all fairness, it’d probably be best for them to try to jockey for a position to see the Denver Nuggets in the first round. So, by not having him there, yeah it hurts as far as having practice time, getting to know his teammates again, getting the continuity. But you’ve got to [look] at the Rockets’ offense also. They spread the court, go one on one, so they’re not gonna miss him for too long.”
That being said, Westbrook has had a vital role on the Rockets’ team this season before the hiatus. Paul was also asked about his season so far and how it might position Houston for the playoffs.
“Russ was starting to really establish himself in the Rockets’ offense. In some cases, he was pretty much taking over the offense at some point,” The Truth said. “He was having another MVP caliber season. He was looking like he was a great pairing to Harden, and he was starting to really come into his own in the offense and finding his way. So, he’s gonna be a big part in whatever they do moving forward once he comes back.”
Watch Paul, Jorge Sedano and Kendrick Perkins discuss Westbrook, his Rockets, and the Nuggets below, and watch The Jump weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.