NBA COVID-19 Effects: Protocols, Postponements, and Penalties

The NBA has ditched the bubble for use in this 2021 season. But, it was at a reasonable cost. Players suffered from anxiety and depression, like Paul George. Some players, like Fred VanVleet, were away from their families for months, even on Father’s Day.

The bubble, while effective enough to allow a full NBA playoff agenda, was not healthy or suitable for players. Now, the NBA is increasing COVID-19 protocols. This has led to postponed games, shorthanded rosters, and positive COVID tests.

COVID Protocols

Before the season, the NBA sent out protocols for players to assess in terms of COVID-19. Some of the highlighted guidelines are stated below.

-A player who tests positive cannot exercise for 10 days and must work out alone for two days after the 10-day period.

-A player who tests positive can return to action with subsided symptoms and two straight negative tests, each taken 24 hours apart from each other.

The NBA does not intend to suspend or cancel the season with any specific positive cases or positivity rates.

-When a player tests positive, the organization must contact local authorities, set up housing for the player, and contact trace the players that were close to the infected during that period.

Other notable protocols have kept players from going to public areas like gyms or restaurants in their cities unless they are safe and can provide social distancing. Other protocols have led to postponing games and fines for players.

NBA Game Postponements

To this day, 20 NBA games have been postponed due to teams contracting the virus. Teams that highlight postponed games include the Wizards (6), the Grizzlies (two, plus their next three games), and the Celtics (3).

A plethora of teams, like the Washington Wizards, has played games this season while playing shorthanded. Teams have usually played with eight players in this situation, which is the minimum amount to play with. This led to the NBA discussing the possibility of giving teams the option for an 18th roster spot, to eliminate chances of playing shorthanded.

Key players affected by COVID-19 protocols include Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and currently six players on the Wizards’ team. These are just a few of the players that are proceeding with COVID-19 protocols.

The NBA, to date, has a total of 25 players going through COVID-19 measures to return to play. Nearly half of the NBA, 14 teams, have at least one player going through COVID-19 protocols.

Player Penalties

The NBA announced in its elongated COVID-19 protocols that, “fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices and game forfeitures,” are a result of a player breaking COVID-19 protocols.

We have already seen examples in this, specifically from stars James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

NBA President of league operations, Byron Spruell, released this statement back in late December about Harden, “Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been fined $50,000 for violating the league’s Health and Safety Protocols, which among other things prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.”

The same statement and punishment were given to Nets’ guard Kyrie Irving, who was seen at a family party without a mask with 15+ people. That led to a fine of $50,000 and quarantine before his return to the Nets last Wednesday, January 20th.

Outlook/All-Star Break

The All-Star break has been scheduled from March 5-10 this year and is expected to be a possible stretch for teams to make-up games that were postponed due to COVID-19. That, or a time for players to rest from the COVID-19 season.

Whether or not that happens, many teams have been affected by COVID-19 cases. Many games have been played this season with eight-man rotations occurring for teams. Teams have had multiple games postponed and will need to make them up at a later date.

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