Wizards Announce 6 Players Have COVID-19, 9 Total in NBA Health Protocols

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 16, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Tommy Sheppard, general manager of the Washington Wizards, speaks to the media during a press conference on July 22, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman

Six Washington Wizards players have tested positive for COVID-19, per general manager Tommy Sheppard. Nine players overall are in the league's health and safety protocols.

"What's ahead is going to be determined day-by-day," Sheppard said Friday, per the team.

"We're hoping that there are no new positive tests tomorrow, we will be able to get back into the gym with 1 vs. 0. Our full trust is in the league in guiding us to getting as healthy as possible."

Head coach Scott Brooks added that the Wizards have just six players available to practice.

Washington also recently lost center Thomas Bryant for the season with a torn ACL. Point guard Russell Westbrook is out with a left quad injury.

Four of the Wizards' games have been postponed. Last Wednesday's home matchup with the Utah Jazz was called off as was Friday's previously scheduled game at the Detroit Pistons.

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A two-game home series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was set for Sunday and Monday, has now been postponed as well.

Per ESPN.com, 12 games have been postponed so far. Only one, a Dec. 23 matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, was supposed to take place before Jan. 10.

The other 11 were all scheduled between Jan. 10 and Jan. 18. 

Three of those games involve the Phoenix Suns, who are out due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols after they played the Wizards last Monday.

Phoenix hasn't played since. As of now, the Suns' matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday is scheduled to go on.

Despite the postponements, ESPN's Baxter Holmes spoke with numerous team and league officials who believe that the NBA will not press pause (or move into a bubble a la the end of the 2019-20 season).

"It's just a reflection of what's going on in every city," a head athletic trainer for a Western Conference team said. "I mean, we're doing lots of things, but we're not living in a bubble [anymore]."

The NBA also instituted new rules related to COVID-19 protocols in an effort to combat the spike amongst players, per Marc Stein and Sopan Deb of the New York Times on Tuesday. They include mandating that players stay home unless traveling for games, practices and essential activities for at least a two-week period.

In addition, handshakes are not permitted on the court, and face coverings must be worn at all times on the bench.