Report: Michael Malone Enters COVID Protocols; David Adelman to Be Nuggets' Acting HC

Adam WellsDecember 30, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets reacts to a play during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena on December 26, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. 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. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets will be without head coach Michael Malone for at least the next three games. 

Per Mike Singer of the Denver Post, Malone entered the NBA's health and safety protocols Thursday. 

Singer noted assistant David Adelman will serve as Denver's head coach until Malone can return. 

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nuggets "may have trouble" getting the league-mandated eight players necessary to play Thursday's game against the Golden State Warriors after Jeff Green, Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji also entered the protocol.

Monte Morris, Aaron Gordon and Bol Bol all missed Tuesday's game against the Warriors with minor injuries. Morris (knee), Gordon (hamstring) and Vlatko Cancar (illness) are listed as questionable for Thursday.   

The NBA adjusted its COVID protocols earlier this week to potentially give players and coaches a shorter timetable to return. 

In a league memo issued to all 30 teams and obtained by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, the isolation period for anyone who tests positive has been reduced from 10 days to six days—provided they "are asymptomatic and meet other testing standards."

Denver is scheduled to host the Warriors on Thursday before playing a two-game road trip against the Houston Rockets (Jan. 1) and Dallas Mavericks (Jan. 3). 

Malone, Green, Hyland and Nnaji are the only four members of the Nuggets in the protocol, according to an updated list from CBS Sports' James Herbert.

The earliest that quartet will be allowed to return if they are asymptomatic and test negative is Jan. 5. Denver is scheduled to host the Utah Jazz on that night. 

Malone is in his seventh season as Nuggets head coach. The 50-year-old has led them to the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, including an appearance in the 2020 Western Conference Finals. 

The Nuggets are fifth in the Western Conference standings with a 17-16 record. They are coming off back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State.