Last night, the NBA had to postpone three matchups due to the coronavirus threat, and one of the game’s hottest names was affected by the pathogen’s spread and had to sit out.
New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson did not travel to Los Angeles with his teammates to face the Clippers yesterday. Although there is no confirmation whether he has COVID-19, the current contact tracing protocol mandated that Williamson not be present for the contest, so we can be sure that there was potential exposure to a carrier or someone with an inconclusive test result.
Also, the cancellation of the Washington Wizards‘ visit to the Phoenix Suns was one of the three postponements due to COVID-19 on Wednesday alone, raising this week’s total number of adjourned games to eight. The Utah Jazz’s trek to face the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital was pushed back indefinitely, too, as well as the Orlando Magic’s trip north to face the Boston Celtics, who have been dealing with a roster thinned by the coronavirus.
Forward Jayson Tatum tested positive for the virus Friday last week but was asymptomatic. Nevertheless, protocols dictate he will have to quarantine for ten days before engaging in any related activity, including exercise. And per contact tracing, guard Jaylen Brown will have to sit out for at least seven days since he was around Tatum as of that Friday. While there is no revelation if he also contracted the virus, Brown might return sooner if he tests negative from now through Saturday.
From when the 2019-2020 season resumed in July through to the Finals’ last game, there was no reported incidence of infection or exposure thanks to restricted travel, strict quarantining, and the bubble. However, since the start of the ’20-’21 season, positivity rates have fluctuated from as high as 8.7% in December 2020 to its present number of 3.2%.
In the interest of flexibility and precaution, the league has only released the schedule through March 4 just in case there would be a need to adjust for “any games postponed … that can reasonably be added to the second half schedule.” But as was said by Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy, “This is the NBA in 2021. I know it’s cliché, but in this year, it’s absolutely true: It is literally one day at a time.”