When the NBA decided to resume their 2020-21 season in December, numerous red flags were raised. Some worried about the players playing after a handful of days of rest, while some raised concern about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Before the NBA, NFL and MLB have had outbreaks between, making it difficult for the teams to complete their season. Now, as the NBA has had to postpone four games in total, reports hint at a possible change in the health and safety protocols already in place.
Two NBA games have been postponed: Dallas Mavericks-New Orleans Pelicans tonight and Boston Celtics-Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 11, 2021
On Monday (Tuesday IST), the NBA announced that they will postpone two more games – New Orleans Pelicans vs Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls. The league's decision came due to their extensive health and safety precautions. As players test and come back with positive/inconclusive results – teams are left with less than the required number of players due to contact tracing.
As per The Athletic's Shams Charania, the league will hold a meeting to dealing with these outbreaks across teams. The meeting – involving the National Basketball Players Association and General Managers – could decide upon some possible rule changes. With more players testing positive, reports have spoken of the league's course of action, considering their run at the NBA bubble in Orlando went without a single incident.
The NBA and NBPA are meeting today about modifying the league's health and safety protocols, the league says. https://t.co/YeJkslYIQB— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 11, 2021
Like the previous games, the Mavericks-Pelicans matchup was postponed as Dallas do not have eight players available. After their game against the Denver Nuggets last week, three players (Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson) were quarantined after another player's positive test. While no other positive test was expected, Maxi Kleber tested positive – which had the franchise shut down their practice. Now, at least five more Mavericks' players are being quarantined.
On the other hand, for the Celtics, this is their second game being postponed. While their encounter against the Miami Heat was pushed ahead due to the latter having a less-than-required number of players, this time it was the Celtics with fewer players. As a result of contact tracing, players will need to quarantine, testing negative for COVID-19 till they are allowed to play again.
Despite countless positive tests and postponements, the NBA is apparently determined to continue and complete the current season. While the league had reportedly considered January outbreaks, they will need to bring changes as multiple games are being pushed for later. As per reports, the board of governors will meet this week, discussing how the season will move ahead.
“We’re in uncharted waters,” Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said while speaking to the Associated Press. They also reported that currently, NBA GMs have hinted at teams possibly increasing roster sizes. Additionally, players will asked to be more careful about interactions including (but not limited to) handshakes and hugs while being more mindful about distancing and wearing masks.
Before the 2020-21 campaign began, NBA commissioner Adam Silver had spoken about the league being halted altogether. If the protocols did not work, the league will once again be suspended – that is if the league experiences a massive outbreak.
“I think we are prepared for isolated cases. In fact, based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, based on watching other leagues operating outside the bubble, unfortunately, it seems somewhat inevitable," he added.