The NBA is beginning to see the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the 2020-21 season as more positive cases have come up for a number of teams over the past week.
The league was forced to postpone a game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat because of positive cases and contract tracing. On Monday, the matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks was postponed. Tuesday’s game between the Celtics and Chicago Bulls also suffered the same fate.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers were barely able to meet the minimum requirement of eight players to face the Denver Nuggets. All of this comes after a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets was the first to be postponed on just the second day of the 2020-21 regular season.
Cases across the country continue to spike and although the condensed travel and schedule have helped, players are still just as susceptible to contracting the virus. Concerns about the safety of the players and staff have risen in the past week, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA doesn’t currently plan on suspending the season:
“As coronavirus-infected players, contact tracing quarantines and ancillary injuries thin rosters of available players, the NBA has no plans to pause the season, a league spokesman told ESPN. “We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN in a statement. “There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols.”
The NBA’s decision is partially fueled by the idea that it is more likely people will get coronavirus if they were to pause the season:
But the league sees evidence of an even greater risk of infection when the league’s shuttered, which is another reason health and medical experts advising the NBA aren’t pushing for a stoppage now, sources told ESPN. When players were tested upon returning to team training camps, the NBA saw spikes in positive tests — including 48 cases on December 2.
While a full-fledged team outbreak has yet to occur, it is reasonable to expect more postponements to happen given how things have escalated. Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is among those who have publicly said they trust the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but it still a concering situation for everyone involved.
Vogel on concerns about NBA health and safety protocols
The Lakers saw Alex Caruso miss games due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and Vogel re-emphasized how important it is to follow the guidelines.
“I think so much of this pandemic is case by case, situation by situation,” he said. “I think you have to measure those certain nights, when they add up it’s difficult to say what would cause me to feel like it’s too much without seeing all those events.
“I just know there’s going to be guys that test positive and miss games. Guys are going to miss games with quarantines and there will be a few games lost, but hopefully all of those things are manageable enough that we can continue on with our season safely.
“What’s happened the last few weeks just drives the point home of how important it is for all of us to follow the protocols to a T. If you’re really doing that, it really minimizes risk of spreading the virus. That’s what we continue to emphasize with our guys.”
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