At the start of February, it seemed that the NBA had gotten past the worst stage of the pandemic. Over three weeks from Jan. 20 through Feb. 10, only two players tested positive for the coronavirus. With winter coming to an end, there was optimism that better days were ahead, and games wouldn’t be postponed left and right due to contact tracing and insufficient availability.
But those numbers spiked once again. Five players tested positive between Feb. 11 and Feb. 17, and seven tested positive the week of Feb. 25. Even the somewhat draconian measures the league had put in place were not shutting the virus out.
Rather than limit the freedoms of players and teams even further, the league is now pinning its hopes on the vaccine. Most players aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated — other than players with preexisting conditions, a group of Pelicans were the first to publicly get the shot this week — but that should be changing soon. And once the vaccine is available, the NBA is doing its best to incentivize players to take the plunge.
Consider these changes in the health and safety protocols that would be applied to those who are 14 days removed from their second vaccine shot, per reporting from ESPN:
Fully vaccinated individuals will no longer have to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19; can have friends, family and others visit at home and on the road without having them test or register with the team; and can dine outdoors at restaurants, among other eased restrictions.
Fully vaccinated teams will no longer have to wear masks at the practice facility; have more flexibility to leave the team hotel on the road; and can dine indoors or outdoors at restaurants, among other eased restrictions.
The Clippers have been relatively fortunate with regards to health and safety this season. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Mfiondu Kabengele missed five total games due to contact tracing, and several members of the support staff had to quarantine after intermittent mask-wearing at a New Year’s Eve party, but thankfully, there haven’t been any positive tests.
More news for Thursday:
- From last night, Alicia has the recap from a good Clippers defensive performance that was undone by their offensive failures.
- On the offensive end, Paul George was especially unhappy about the continued lack of foul calls when the team gets into the paint.
- It wasn’t just against the Clippers — Luka Dončić’s 3-point accuracy has been on the upswing for a while now.
- Law Murray had a 1-on-1 with Reggie Jackson and got into topics such as his upbringing as a military brat and the origins of his friendship with George.
- Another fun friendship story, this one on the bond between Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard.
- Owen Phillips investigates offensive inflation in the NBA and has some thoughts on Leonard’s MVP case.
- This was a truly fascinating piece about the history of draft pick protection in trades. So many wild nuggets.