Report: NBA Adjusts Rule for a Player's Return After Inconclusive COVID-19 Tests

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver unveils the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award during a news conference Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
David Banks/Associated Press

The NBA has reportedly adjusted its safety protocols within the Orlando bubble for players who receive inconclusive tests for the coronavirus, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. 

Wojnarowski provided additional details on the changes, which will allow players to return sooner:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

After entering quarantine, if a player is asymptomatic and tests negative on a first retest, he will be permitted to play in his next game as long another negative test is returned within 60 minutes of the game's start time. On average, every 5 in 1,000 tests can be inconclusive. https://t.co/mqS799rG8c

Under the initial rules, anyone who tested positive would then have to test negative twice in a span of more than 24 hours before they were allowed to leave isolation and rejoin their teams.

A change was seemingly necessary after an unnamed Sacramento Kings player had an inconclusive COVID-19 test this week but was allowed to play after two more negative tests in the next two days, per Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of ESPN.

"[An inconclusive test], it's bound to happen," Kings head coach Luke Walton said. "It will probably happen again to someone else while we are out here, but the player is back with us, and we have everyone available."

These "false positive" tests reportedly occur 0.5 percent of the time, but it could become common with the NBA utilizing constant testing inside the bubble.

The last announcement on July 20 featured 346 players all testing negative for the virus.

Losing a key player for even one game could be huge for a team like Sacramento, which is trying to fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. After Sunday's loss to the Orlando Magic, they are 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed with the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers also ahead of them.