The tally of postponed games in the 2020-21 NBA season has now reached six, and players who previously tested positive for COVID-19 are doing so again. The league had to act, and it did so Tuesday.
New restrictions are being put in place, mostly involving road teams, so that the league can restrict the transmission of the coronavirus from outside the NBA. Players will no longer be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road or leave their hotels for any non-basketball activities. Say goodbye to the NBA-approved restaurants.
Until Jan. 26, presumably when the league expects the holiday rush of COVID transmission to peter out, players are also expected to remain in their homes when they aren’t traveling unless they have to leave for “essential activities”. The league is also shortening pregame locker room meetings to 10 minutes. All other group meets have to take place in open spaces where players can be six feet apart, and everyone has to be masked.
In addition, teams will now have to match their bench seating charts and plane seating charts so that the same players are within close proximity of each other. Players will also have to wear masks on the bench at all times, other than a brief cooling off period after they’ve exited a game — there will be a designated area for these players on the sideline.
The NBA is also trying to restrict contact between players of different teams, such as hugging and postgame chats.
There are bound to mixed feelings about the restrictions being placed on the players, seeing as these aren’t the rules they agreed to when the season started. However, Nicolas Batum thinks that the league is doing its best to keep the players safe, and he feels comfortable with how the protocols have worked so far. Batum also added that there’s a benefit to being isolated from the outside world: forced bonding with his new teammates.
“I just trust the NBA, the process of the NBA, doing a great job,” Batum said before practice Tuesday. “It’s the same situation for everybody, not only for us. So just find ways, practice, after practice, we stay a little longer in the locker room to talk to each other after the game, that’s the same on the road. In San Francisco, I remember in San Francisco, we maybe stayed an hour after the game in the locker room talking with each other. So there are different ways to bond. And we have to adjust. We have to adjust because the situation and the time we’re living in is pretty crazy but we still find ways to regroup and spend time with each other.”
Their bonding location will have to change now that locker room meetings are being restricted, but it seems like Batum has the best possible outlook for this situation. He gets to play the game he loves with teammates he enjoys, and if the worst thing is that he has to spend more time with them instead of others, that isn’t so bad.
More news for Wednesday:
- The Clippers unveiled a new project called “Write the Story” that narrates the experiences of Clipper fans. Check it out!
- Even without fans in the building, DJs are still putting in the work in arenas. Paolo Uggetti talks to them about how their jobs have changed.
- Former Clipper Blake Griffin looks like he could be on his last legs. Zach Kram analyzes this next phase of Griffin’s career.
- Mark Medina revisits the bubble idea but argues that the NBA is doing the right thing with its modified protocols.
- James Harden added a new chapter to his trade demand saga. It certainly feels like his days in Houston are numbered.
- Marc Stein ran the numbers of masked vs. maskless Kawhi Leonard in his latest newsletter.