The NBA is set to descend on Orlando this week, with all 22 teams arriving between July 7 and July 9, but the mood heading into these pivotal dates has been more ominous than celebratory.
Seven teams have shut down their practice facilities due to positive coronavirus tests over the past few two weeks, including the Clippers, as 25 out of 351 players (7.1%) and 10 out of 884 staff members (1.1%) have tested positive since teams reported back on June 23. That gives players and teams even less time to prepare their bodies, though practices were still limited to individual workouts, heading into the seeding games.
The Clippers closed their facility because of one positive test in their traveling party, which was later revealed to belong to Landry Shamet. Shamet will not be joining the Clippers when they leave for Orlando on July 8, but he is expected to make the trip later on once he was recovered.
More players have opted out of the restart in recent days, including Thabo Sefolosha of the Rockets (who was replaced by former Clipper Luc Mbah a Moute), and Victor Oladipo of the Pacers. Players like Damian Lillard are expressing concern that everyone will follow the rules of the bubble while others like DeMar DeRozan find the protocols “frustrating and overwhelming”.
Other leagues are dealing with similar issues, specifically MLS, which is also hosting a tournament in Orlando. One team (Dallas) had 11 positive tests after making the trip, and several other teams had to delay their flights. The league had to postpone an official game because the teams will still be quarantining at that time.
There were always going to be difficulties with staging live sports during the pandemic, but the past few days have brought into stark relief what an ambitious undertaking this is. Best of all to everyone who is heading to Orlando this week for a safe trip and safe stay.
On to the links...
- The Clippers’ exhibition schedule has been announced. Contrary to earlier indications that teams would limited to games against others in their same hotel, the Clippers will actually be playing Orlando, Washington, and Sacramento. It’s hard to say how much they could realistically learn from those opponents.
- A look at why players/coaches are still generally willing to finish out the season.
- Patrick Beverley shared some thoughts on his mentality heading into the seeding games.
- Beverley celebrated an early birthday with quite the cake.
- ESPN had the Clippers second behind Milwaukee in their latest power rankings.
- Don’t forget to catch Jamil Wilson in The Basketball Tournament on ESPN today. The organizers are so fastidious with their bubble that one positive test from the no. 5 overall seed sent the entire team home.