NBA COVID-19 tracker: Kevin Durant among eight Nets players in protocols; Kings fear an epidemic, compared

The rise in COVID-19 cases around the NBA has prompted the league to discuss changes to its health and safety protocols with the National Basketball Players Association. The Omicron variant is here, and this week saw the first confirmed case in the NBA player pool, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

With coach Alvin Gentry and several players in protocols, the Sacramento Kings canceled their scheduled practice Thursday and temporarily closed their training facility, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The Kings – who saw goalie De’Aaron Fox enter Protocols on Thursday – would have are concerned that more players will test positive and that Friday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies may be in jeopardy.

In the event of an outbreak, Sacramento could find itself in the same position as the Chicago Bulls. The NBA has postponed Chicago’s games against the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors (originally scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday) and, since December 1. 10 of its players have entered health and safety protocols, as have broadcasters Stacey King and Bill Wennington. King tweeted on Wednesday that he had tested negative on Tuesday night, but still had a high temperature and felt faint.

Several Bulls could be eligible to return on Sunday when they host the Los Angeles Lakers, who will themselves have a makeshift roster. Avery Bradley joined three teammates in health and safety protocols Thursday, and the Lakers signed Isaiah Thomas using a hardship exception.

Apart from these two Chicago games, there have been no other postponements yet. The Brooklyn Nets, however, only had eight active players – the minimum required by the league for a game to play – when they hosted the Raptors on Tuesday. Seven Nets players are in protocols, and Brooklyn announced Thursday that it had signed Langston Galloway to a 10-day contract, using a hardship exception. (The shorthanded Bulls used hardship exceptions to sign Alfonzo McKinnie and Stanley Johnson, the latter of which entered health and safety protocols before his first game.)

Five Charlotte Hornets players were recently on health and safety protocols, but all have since been cleared.

Players who are not fully vaccinated should enter into health and safety protocols if they are found to be in close contact with someone who tests positive. Starting Friday, players who haven’t received a recall will face more stringent restrictions, including match-day testing.

If a player tests positive for COVID-19, they should immediately self-isolate until 10 days have passed since that test or the onset of symptoms, or until they are negative on two tests. PCR at 24 hour intervals.

Also in health and safety protocols: Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and Toronto president Masai Ujiri. The Nets have coaches and front office members in Protocols, Steve Nash said Tuesday, and the Lakers have staff in Protocols as well.

The Raptors announced on Wednesday that they will play home games at 50% of their capacity, starting on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors. On Thursday, their G League team, the 905 Raptors, followed suit.

Players who recently approved health and safety protocols include LaMelo Ball of the Hornets, Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards, Josh Richardson of the Boston Celtics, Justin Holiday of the Indiana Pacers and Austin Rivers of the Denver Nuggets.

Here is a team-by-team list of players in health and safety protocols, along with the date they entered:

Boston Celtics

brooklyn nets

Chicago Bulls

Denver Nuggets

  • Michael Porter Jr. (December 17)
  • Bol Bol (Dec 17)

Warriors of the Golden State

the Los Angeles Lakers

  • Kendrick Nunn (December 17)
  • Avery Bradley (December 16)
  • Austin Reaves (December 17)

Memphis Grizzly

  • Ja Morant (December 8; indefinitely absent for sprained knee)

Kings of Sacramento

Toronto Raptors

  • Precious Achiuwa (released December 12, not because of NBA health and safety protocols, but because, according to Toronto Public Health guidelines, he needs to isolate himself as a close contact of a person who tested positive; could return on Saturday against Warriors)

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