Sources: NBA exploring modifications to COVID-19 protocols with rising number of players sidelined

·2-min read

In the wake of more COVID-19 diagnoses across the NBA, the league is looking into modifying current protocols, sources told Yahoo Sports.

The NBA and NBPA are exploring multiple options, and restricting outside access for teams in visiting markets isn’t out of the question, sources told Yahoo Sports. That was the protocol last season before the COVID-19 vaccines became readily available, and unvaccinated players already follow stringent protocols.

The new likely protocols will include players being tested daily, except for their days off. Currently, players are tested weekly.

But the virus is raging through the league again. In between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Chicago Bulls experienced an outbreak to the point of postponing two games this week.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Dwight Howard and Ja Morant (already inactive with a knee injury) are among players across the league outside of Chicago who’ve recently tested positive, prompting the NBA to look at its current set of protocols.

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden looks on before a game.
Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden is one of several Nets players who are in the NBA's health and safety protocols. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

And the Brooklyn Nets barely had enough players to field a team against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, leading to the Nets getting a roster exception from the league to sign players.

The Raptors will have their arena at 50% capacity, it was just announced, but there are no other teams taking such measures.

With the Christmas slate of games upcoming, the NBA doesn’t want to risk cancellations for the biggest day on the TV calendar, but it’s not ready to completely restrict outside movement.

Booster shots are available and some teams have already put players through that process.

Whatever is decided, it was stressed by sources that any changes will be fluid and determined by the science. Last winter, several NBA games were postponed in the first half of the season, but the league had the flexibility to create a second-half schedule on the back end to fill those gaps.

There’s no such mechanism in place this season, so it’ll be harder to replace potential lost games if such actions occurred this time around — arena availability being a main reason.

Either way, it’s a whole new world the NBA, sports in general and the world is inhabiting, with flexibility being the main accomplice.

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