NBA virus numbers continue rising, expanded testing begins

FILE Hornets Magic Basketball
Posted at 7:42 PM, Dec 26, 2021

Here’s what the Orlando Magic injury report looked like on Sunday: Six players out because of virus-related problems, another sidelined while he completes the process of getting cleared from a protocols stint, and another six players out with injuries.

Yes, that’s 13 players — from one team.

“You expect the unexpected,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said.

Such is the norm around the NBA right now, after yet another day of adding more names to the health and safety protocols list. By late afternoon Sunday, the official number of players disclosed by teams as being in the protocols was up to 111 — the real number, considering some teams had yet to update injury reports, was believed to be slightly higher. And some teams were stuck simply trying to piece rosters together just to try and play.

Golden State’s Draymond Green was the latest big name added to the protocols list on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the Warriors beat Phoenix in what was the best game on the league’s five-game Christmas lineup and probably one of the more anticipated games so far this season.

The numbers may continue to rise, now that the league’s expanded testing for players who have not received booster shots started on Sunday and will continue into early January.

“This is the reality of this association right now,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Toronto played in Cleveland on Sunday with eight players: four on regular contracts, four signed to hardship deals. The Raptors have 10 players unable to play for virus-related reasons and hadn’t played for more than a week.

But the schedule said they were playing Sunday, so they showed up to play on Sunday.

“We haven’t done a thing since our last game,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said about 90 minutes before tip-off.

In Chicago, where the Bulls just had 10 players go through protocols and are now without coach Billy Donovan as he navigates them, it had been pointed out that Lonzo Ball was the lone player to appear in every game for the team so far this season.

That streak is about to end: Ball is one of three players on the latest list of Bulls in the protocols.

“Y’all jinxed me,” Ball tweeted.

Memphis saw its protocols list grow to five on Sunday. San Antonio — one of the few teams that hadn’t had a player in protocols right now — had its run of luck on that front end when Dejounte Murray was added to the list, and Atlanta added John Collins to its already-jammed list.

“You can only control so many things,” Mosley said.

The figure of those in the protocols doesn’t even include coaches and staff who are sidelined by virus-related concerns, which almost always means a positive test.

Miami played Orlando on Sunday with assistant coaches Caron Butler and Chris Quinn not on the bench, and head athletic trainer Jay Sabol dealing with protocols as well.

“It’s a crazy virus. It really is,” Spoelstra said. “It just brings out the worst in people. It can happen. The league, they have to make really tough decisions right now. I don’t envy what they’re having to do, but organizations are having to make tough decisions daily. Same thing with the players association and staffs.

“We just have to stay the course. The business is still moving forward. It’s thriving. Everyday life is still moving forward. But you have to have the appropriate level of precautions and awareness as well.”