NBA Sports Medicine Director: Players Who Test Positive out Minimum of 2 Weeks

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 11, 2020

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: An NBA logo is shown at the 5th Avenue NBA store on March 12, 2020 in New York City. The National Basketball Association said they would suspend all games after player Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz reportedly tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

NBA players who test positive for COVID-19 during the league's restart in Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, will be out for at least two weeks, per Dr. John DiFiori, the NBA's director of sports medicine.

"Everyone needs to understand that if someone were to test positive, it's quite likely that they won't return to the court for a minimum of two weeksminimum," Dr. DiFiori told ESPN's Baxter Holmes.

"It may be even a little longer than that, depending on the individual circumstances, and then you need some time to get reconditioned."

The reconditioning is a key factor here, as are the unknowns related to COVID-19. One general manager spoke with Holmes about that tenet.

"There are unknown effects it has on lung capacity, unknown effects it has on cardiac health. What if a 24-year-old catches it in Orlando and, in 14 days, he quarantines and is fine, but then he has these everlasting heart problems? [Or he] gets winded so easily, or he becomes a little bit too susceptible to fatigue? ... These are all the unknowns."

In other words, a player who tests positive is far from being guaranteed a clean bill of health to return to the court as soon as Day 15 arrives. Players would need to undergo "cardiac screening in accordance with criteria outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)," per Holmes.

Dr. DiFiori also stressed the importance of players getting back up to game speed following a diagnosis: 

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"Anyone who's been out of training for two weeks is going to need time to recondition. These things are important for everyone to understand. The players, the coaches, the medical staff, understand that if a player tests positive, they're going to need time to clear the infection management, they need additional time to recover, and then to begin reconditioning for their sport."

Players would hypothetically be doing very little during quarantine, and working out and practicing with the team is out of the equation.

With players already off the court for four months at this juncture, reconditioning would be paramount if one were to test positive.

As far as a player's absence and its potential effect on a team, the NBA schedule in Florida is more or less divided into two-week blocks.

The league's "seeding" games take place from July 30 to August 14 before the first round of the playoffs during the final two weeks of August.

The first half of September will feature the conference semifinals, and conference finals will occur in the latter half of the month. The NBA Finals will begin Sept. 30 and end no later than October 12, when Game 7 is scheduled (if necessary).

In other words, a player who tests positive for COVID-19 could be out for at least an entire playoff series or perhaps half of one and half of another if his team advances.

The NBA's restart is officially set to begin Thursday, July 30, when the Utah Jazz face the New Orleans Pelicans at 6:30 p.m. ET. Each of the 22 teams invited will play eight seeding games before the field is pared down to 16 franchises for the usual four-round, best-of-seven postseason.

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