James Harden, Russell Westbrook Don’t Travel With Rockets to Orlando

Michael Shapiro

The Rockets departed for Orlando on Thursday ahead of the NBA’s return to play, but two key members were missing from Houston’s voyage to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex.

Neither James Harden nor Russell Westbrook were on Houston’s flight to Orlando on Thursday, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Both players will reportedly join the team “in the near future.”

Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni was among the members of the Rockets to fly to Orlando on Thursday. D’Antoni, 69, is the second-oldest head coach in the NBA behind Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. D’Antoni noted on Tuesday he has “no apprehension,” about coaching the Rockets in Orlando, stating his confidence in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

D’Antoni added he will be wearing a mask as he coaches from the sidelines for the remainder of 2019-20. 

"The big thing is, you wear a mask for other people," D'Antoni said. "I do it for my players, I do it for my coaches, I do it for the people that I care about, so i wear a mask. And that's what I do walking down the street here, going into a grocery store."

Harden enters the 2020 playoffs in the midst of another historic scoring campaign. He is slated to win the scoring title for the third consecutive season in 2019-20, joining Kevin Durant as the only active player with at least three scoring titles.

Westbrook has been on a tear of late after a slow start with the Rockets. He is averaging 32.3 points per game in his last 20 contests, shooting 52.7% from the field.

The Rockets will resume the 2019-20 season on July 31 as they face the Mavericks. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. CT: