With the NBA and Players Association having finalized a return for the 2019-20 season, anticipation is again building as the 22 teams invited to play in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, are gearing up to make the trip.
Mandatory testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) began this week. The NBA announced 16 of 302 players tested positive, and they are now entering into protocol in order to gain clearance before rejoining their respective teams.
Players will undergo testing every other day until they are due to arrive in Orlando, and will be required to pass two tests in order to participate in basketball activities.
Due to the virus and the ongoing social justice actions being taken across the country, the NBA instituted a transaction window that will allow all 30 teams to sign players who would be eligible to participate in the remainder of the season.
For example, the Los Angeles Lakers were dealt a blow when Avery Bradley opted to sit out the bubble and it was immediately reported that the team was looking at JR Smith as a possible replacement. With the possibility of players opting out of returning as the deadline to submit rosters approaches, there could be a flurry of signings in the coming days.
While replacing players was a relatively easy fix, it was unclear what would happen if key staff members were forced to sit out or quarantine while in Orlando. According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the league has addressed this issue:
As part of an update to the NBA’s health and safety protocols for its restart in Orlando, teams were informed they will be able to replace staff members who test positive for coronavirus on campus and are unable to work, league sources told ESPN.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 26, 2020
This is a good sign as there is an expectation among the NBA and NBPA that positive cases will likely occur while teams are inside the bubble despite all the health and safety protocols being implemented. Most of the reports in recent weeks have explained what would happen in the event of a player testing positive, but it was previously unclear what teams could do in the event a team employee were to contract COVID-19.
What is uncertain, though, is what testing methods and protocols are in place for Walt Disney World’s employees as they will also be in the proximity of the teams and their staff. So far, the requirement of face masks and strict physical distancing have been reported, but Disney employees are not expected to be kept on campus.
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