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Report: NBA Expects Rash Of COVID-19 Positive Tests

DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 30: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets goes to the basket against Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center on January 30, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA anticipates a rash of positive COVID-19 tests as players return to their host cities. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “Teams are bracing for significant numbers of positive tests.” As of Monday, all players resuming the season in Orlando were required to be back with teams.

On Tuesday, teams began testing players and essential staff who plan to travel to Orlando. Teams will travel to The Disney World Resorts beginning July 7, while training camp begins July 11. The first official regular-season games are set for July 30.

The Utah Jazz are among the 22 NBA teams returning to play in Orlando. Jazz All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell both tested positive for the virus in mid-March. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the virus which led to Commissioner Adam Silver suspending the regular season. Mitchell tested positive the following morning.

NBA Seeing COVID-19 Positive Tests

In addition to Gobert and Mitchell, several teams have seen players and staff test positive for COVID-19. Now, the league is preparing to see that number climb significantly.

According to Wojnarowski’s sources, “one Western Conference playoff team had four positives in past weeks.” Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic tested positive for the virus in Serbia last week. “He’s been asymptomatic since testing positive last week,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “Jokic is expected to be cleared to travel to Denver within a week.”

Additionally, the Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin that two members of the Phoenix Suns received positive tests.

“The positive tests led to Suns temporarily shutting down voluntary workouts at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, “The sources told Rankin.

Players who test positive for the virus will be “isolated and retested” according to ESPN. The retest will be administered to make sure there isn’t a false positive. Players who are confirmed positive will receive treatment and ordered to rest for at least 14 days.

Players will then undergo a cardiac test before they are allowed to resume exercising.

The NBA is prepared for positive tests during its return. According to the 100 plus page safety protocol memo given to teams, “the occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption” of the season.

Jazz Players Begin Practicing

Though teams are restricted from hosting sanctioned practices before July 11 in Orlando, some Jazz players have already retaken the court.

Last week, Mitchell and Jazz teammates Jordan Clarkson, Royce O’Neale, Miye Oni, and Rayjon Tucker were seen practicing together in California.

On Wednesday, players choosing to skip the NBA’s return can inform their team of their plans. Teams will be able to replace those players from a group of eligible free-agents. While June 24 was originally believed to be a deadline for players to make decisions regarding their plans, those rules have softened.

According to Wojnarowski, Wednesday will be used by players seeking excused exemptions for missing the remainder of the season. Those who are excused will receive full pay despite missing games. Otherwise, players can make their decision by July 1 when final rosters are due to the NBA.


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