Rockets’ KJ Martin clears COVID-19 protocols, back to training

KJ Martin cleared health and safety protocols and trained on Thursday, becoming the first to return of the four Rockets players placed on health and safety protocols earlier this week.

Martin has not played in any of the Rockets’ back-to-back games against the Hornets and Lakers after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of Monday’s game in Charlotte despite being asymptomatic. He said he tested negative on Tuesday and Wednesday, which allowed him to return to the squad.

“I feel like I was gone for a month but it was only three days,” Martin said Thursday. “I feel good. I still have my conditioning.

Prior to his contact with the coronavirus, Martin had played in all but one of the Rockets’ games this season. The forward said that while he was forced not to suffer the losses to the Hornets and Lakers allowed him to see a new side of the game, he can’t wait to be back. Martin was the last player to leave the field in Thursday’s practice.

“It was the hardest thing, watching the game and wanting to help but I can’t,” he said. “Looks like they fought hard and everything, but I’m happy to be back.”

DJ Augustin, Garrison Mathews and Jae’Sean Tate remain absent due to health and safety protocols. Rockets coach Stephen Silas said there was some hope, but no expectation, that one of the three could play at home this weekend against the Heat and Nuggets.

With four players unavailable for Tuesday’s game against the Lakers, the Rockets secured a hardship exception to sign UH product goalie DeJon Jarreau to a 10-day contract. Martin’s return to action gives the Rockets the much-needed depth they need in the frontcourt.

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