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Volume 26 No. 203
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Positive Tests Among NBA Players Increasing As More Workouts Begin

Coronavirus testing “has begun at NBA facilities across the country this week and several players have already tested positive,” according to Jason Anderson of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Three Kings players -- Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len -- either have confirmed or have been reported to have tested positive. Other reports have positive tests from Nuggets C Nikola Jokic, Pacers G Malcolm Brogdon, two unidentified Suns players and “four members of an unspecified Western Conference playoff team” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/25). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said players and execs are "much more concerned about what will happen within the bubble once players are sealed away there if positive tests start to occur there." That includes how it "mentally impacts the players and the fear that might spread once players start to sweat on each other and are on the court against each other." There is less concern "about it happening now where players are testing positive, because they’re out living in a society that has opened up in many ways.” Players have until July 1 to opt out of playing in Orlando, but it is expected that players will “drop out even once they get to Orlando." Wojnarowski: "There are going to be lots of different reasons that might cause somebody to leave the bubble” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/24).

NEW MEANING TO SKIP PASS: In Miami, Jackson & Chiang report Heat F Derrick Jones Jr. has become the “first known Heat player to test positive” for coronavirus. Jones is an “impending unrestricted free agent who is on the verge of the first sizable contract of his NBA career,” though he has “not wavered in his intention to participate in the restart despite what’s perceived by some as a heightened injury risk” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/25). USA TODAY’s Mark Medina writes under the header, “NBA Players Should Not Feel Guilty For Skipping Season.” Trail Blazers F Trevor Ariza, Lakers G Avery Bradley and Wizards F Davis Bertans are all skipping the restart for different reasons, and Medina wrote, “These players sitting out are not quitting on their team when they need them the most. Instead, they are placing higher priority on the health and well-being of both themselves and close ones.  All of these players might be vulnerable to varying degrees of pay cuts. But the NBA and its players union established that no player would face any discipline or a contract termination. During this environment, NBA teams should support these decisions” (USA TODAY, 6/24).

SOME WORRIED ABOUT PLAN: THE ATHLETIC’s Sam Amick reported some NBA GMs “are terrified” about the Orlando plan, not only “for the people who could spend up to three months in COVID-19 ravaged Florida starting in mid-July but also for the incredible damage the league could incur for years to come if too many players test positive and it all comes crashing down.” One GM said, “If the cases keep spiking in Florida, things are going to happen. I’m really, really concerned for the league big-picture wise in many, many ways.” Another GM said, “It’s the hindsight of ‘Was it worth it?’ that worries me. If something happens, it’s (the question of) ‘Was it worth it?’ If everything goes great, it’s historic, and it’ll be remembered throughout history. ‘Remember the Bubble?’ or whatever they’re going to call it. It’ll be a special thing as long as we can make it through.” However, one GM said, “The precautions the NBA is taking to enhance the safety of the bubble participants are nothing short of extraordinary. ... Once (everyone is) on campus, I think (people within the league) will appreciate the NBA’s work on this” (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/24).