The NBA has reportedly told teams scheduled to play on Christmas day that it is "preparing contingencies" in case one of those games is postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak on a team, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
The current slate of games for Christmas is as follows:
- Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks: Noon ET on ESPN
- Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC
- Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns: 5 p.m. ET on ABC
- Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers: 8 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN
- Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz: 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
One potential contingency could be changing the game times, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:
Among the teams scheduled to play, the Hawks have three players in the league's health and safety protocols, the Knicks currently have five players in the protocols, the Celtics have six, the Bucks have four, the Warriors have two, the Nets have 10 and the Lakers and Mavericks each have three players in the protocols.
The number of players entering the health and safety protocols around the league has increased in the last few weeks:
Baxter Holmes @Baxter
The NBA has now hit the triple-digit mark for new players entering their health and safety protocols in December. <br><br>By my count, 117 total NBA players have entered the league’s health and safety protocols this season, with 101 new players coming this month. <a href="https://t.co/zi0irSRx0m">https://t.co/zi0irSRx0m</a>
On Sunday night, the NBA and NBPA agreed to new rules that allow teams to add a replacement player for every member of the roster who goes into the protocols and require them to sign a replacement player for every two players who enter the protocols, two players for every three who go into the protocols and three for every four in the protocols.
Those new rules will be in effect through Jan. 19.
As Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported, "Any replacement players who are signed also won't count toward a team's yearly salary and won't add to its potential luxury tax payment."
That's good news for teams dealing with outbreaks but already in the luxury tax, like the Nets.
Additionally, two-way players won't have a cap on the number of NBA games they can play this season. The changes come as the NBA has been forced to postpone a number of games in December after various outbreaks on rosters around the league.