NBA Rumors: Russell Westbrook And James Harden’s Absence From Rockets Raises Speculation They Have Coronavirus

Russell Westbrook and James Harden in an NBA game.
Harry How / Getty Images

Russell Westbrook and James Harden’s mysterious absence from the Houston Rockets, and reports that Westbrook missed meetings leading up to the team’s trip to Orlando are raising speculation that the stars may have contracted coronavirus, a new report claims.

The Fansided blog Space City Scoop noted that speculation about Westbrook’s absence in particular started to grow after both he and Harden did not join the team on its flight to Orlando to prepare for the NBA restart later this month. This followed a claim from Rockets forward Thabo Sefolosha that several of his teammates had tested positive for coronavirus.

The timing of Sefolosha’s claim and the missed flight for the star players were bolstered by news that neither Harden nor Westbrook were included when the team made players available for Zoom interviews last Friday. There also appeared to be a significant gap for both in making public appearances.

“Russ has been consistently training throughout the break, however, we’ve not seen such a workout video from Russ since June 22nd, which certainly adds to the speculation,” the report noted, adding that Westbrook had not been active on Instagram since June 28.

The last workout video shared by Harden came on June 3, and he has also been staying out of the public eye for some time.

“In fact, the last time we saw Harden in public, he was riding on Houston’s Southwest Freeway alongside rapper Lil’ Baby as the two were donning their Lamborghinis. This was on June 25th, which was 14 days before the Rockets departed for Orlando,” the report noted.

But the report also cautioned against any rush to judgement, noting that Westbrook and Harden were not the only players to not take the team flight to Orlando, and that an assistant coach skipped it as well.

A number of NBA players have contracted coronavirus since the league decided to suspend play in March, including Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell.

It’s not clear if fans will know whether Westbrook and Harden are among those who contracted coronavirus. While the NBA is conducting extensive testing of players during its restarted season, the results will not be made public, and teams are not sharing that information as they do traditional injury reports.

Some have raised concerns about the NBA’s ability to finish out the regular season and playoffs during the restart, especially as the state of Florida has seen a significant rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.