Wizards HC Wes Unseld Jr. Enters COVID Protocols; Pat Delany to Coach vs. Blazers

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 14, 2022

Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. gestures during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Washington. The Wizards won 110-93. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Washington Wizards announced head coach Wes Unseld Jr. entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Friday.

Assistant coach Pat Delany will lead the coaching staff on an interim basis starting with Saturday's home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Unseld was hired by the Wizards in July to become a head coach for the first time.

The 46-year-old Maryland native spent the previous 17 years as an assistant. His coaching career began with Washington in 2005 and featured stops with the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets before his return to the nation's capital.

He's guided the Wizards to a 22-20 record in his first season at the helm. They rank ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.

In December, Unseld expressed concern about trying to remain safe while case numbers rose amid COVID-19's omicron variant:

"It's very frustrating. I don't know what the answer is, to be honest with you. I spent three months in the bubble. I get it. We have a job to do, we're given this opportunity and this platform to do it. But at some point, there is a concern not only for your own personal safety, but the safety of your loved ones and friends and folks you have at home that you could potentially be, unbeknownst to you, bringing something to your house."

Unseld joins guard Bradley Beal, the team's leading scorer at 24 points per game, in the health and safety protocols. Beal missed three games in December while in protocols and reentered them Tuesday.

Delany joined the team's staff in August after stints with the Magic and Charlotte Hornets.

Washington, which is currently riding a three-game winning streak, is slated to play six home games in an 11-day span beginning Saturday against the Blazers.