The roster of players currently dealing with NBA health and safety protocols climbed to 100 on Wednesday, as uncertainty continued to grow over the availability of some of the league’s biggest names for the five-time Christmas title.
Two more games have been called off, bringing the virus-related carry-overs so far this season to nine. And Dallas star Luka Doncic has been added to the protocol roster, a strong indicator he may not be able to play when the Mavericks face Utah as part of the NBA’s five-game Christmas lineup. .
“It’s unpredictable, isn’t it?” You just don’t know, âLos Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony said. âWhat we’re dealing with is bigger than basketball. It’s bigger than that.
Toronto’s game in Chicago on Wednesday has been postponed, as has Brooklyn’s in Portland on Thursday. The NBA has said that neither the Raptors nor the Nets have enough eligible players; According to league rules, teams must have at least eight healthy players in uniform for a match to take place.
As of Wednesday night, based on team injury reports or similar disclosures, there were 95 players from 22 teams facing an issue related to the virus. It is important to note that players can move in and out of this roster quickly in some cases, some teams do not post updated numbers except when required by league rule, and not everyone on the roster does. not tested positive for COVID-19.
“It seems to be changing hour by hour,” said Atlanta coach Nate McMillan.
The Nets have seen each of their last three games postponed – and that means they would play by Saturday at the earliest, when they are due to visit the Lakers in Game 4 on the Christmas list.
âYou just don’t know what’s going to happen, who it’s going to affect, how it’s going to affect someone, how long you’ve been away because of your health, what you’re feeling, the symptoms,â Anthony said. âAnd then on the other hand, some people don’t have symptoms. You don’t know what to do now. I think that’s the frustrating part for everyone.
The Nets have what is believed to be a 10-player record in health and safety protocols, a roster that includes Kevin Durant, James Harden and – though he hasn’t played yet this season – Kyrie Irving .
The 10 teams that were scheduled to play over Christmas – the games are Atlanta in New York, Boston in Milwaukee, Golden State in Phoenix, the Nets in the Lakers and the Mavericks in Utah – had a total of 44 players in Protocols early Wednesday evening. .
âObviously, teams in the league are being hit very hard and games are being postponed,â said Miami goaltender Duncan Robinson. “It’s not surprising, as long as it’s the chaos we’ve been expecting for some time, no matter what it has been, a year and a half or something like that.”
Atlanta listed six players as being in protocols on Wednesday, including goaltender Trae Young. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, also remained on the absent list for Thursday’s Bucks game in Dallas, which would suggest there is no guarantee he can play. at Christmas either.
Doncic was left out of Thursday’s Dallas-Milwaukee game, along with five other Mavericks for health and safety concerns – including Trey Burke, who revealed earlier this season he was unvaccinated. Dallas is set to face Utah on Christmas.
“We want to do what we can to keep the business going, but also to keep our families safe and do our part,” said Suns coach Monty Williams. âIt doesn’t look like the virus is going anywhere, so we might as well do what we can to protect each other. “
Teams are allowed to recruit players to replace those who have been screened out with positive tests, and at least 40 such contracts – which will not count towards a team’s salary cap or tax figures luxury – have been executed over the past few days. Among those who signed: Joe Johnson, who was still 19 when he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2001 and now at 40, is once again a member of the Celtics.
Johnson, who last appeared in the NBA in 2018, was signed to a 10-day contract by the Celtics without even being brought in for a practice session. He said he knew there was a possibility for a team to call, given all the short-term needs many have right now.
âWe’ll see where it goes from here,â Johnson said.
The NBA has no plans to suspend the season, commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week in an interview with ESPN. But the league told teams earlier this week it would prioritize ABC domestic game slots over Christmas if games are postponed that day, meaning it reserves the right to move another game. within those 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. the Windows.
Other Christmas play times are noon and 10:30 p.m., both on ESPN.
“We can’t allow this to be a distraction,” McMillan said before Atlanta faced Orlando on Wednesday night. âIt does, but we have to get over it. â¦ We hope we get negative tests here in the next few days and that the guys are available ASAP and definitely for (Christmas). Players dream of having this opportunity to play on Christmas Day.