The NBA is reportedly adding additional COVID-19 testing as it attempts to play the season in home markets amid the global pandemic.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the league sent a memo to its teams on Wednesday explaining it is adding a third, day-of-game PCR test to the testing that is already done. The league currently has a PCR test and rapid test plan in place, and this third one will return results for players and officials one hour before tipoff on game days.
Playing during the pandemic has presented a number of challenges for the league, especially of late.
As ESPN reported, eight of the nine game postponements have come since Sunday with the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers "dealing with significant roster depletion in recent days because of positive tests, tracing—which indicates if someone has been in an unsafe amount of contact with a person who tested positive—or both."
Fortunately for the NBA, it gave itself some flexibility by not announcing the second half of the schedule in case postponed games needed to be considered.
Still, the postponements are adding up, and the start of the 2020-21 season stands in stark contrast to the success the league experienced at the end of the 2019-20 campaign when it played inside the controlled environment of the Walt Disney World Resort bubble and did not have a single positive COVID-19 test.
In addition to the third added test, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Bontemps reported Tuesday that the NBA is making a number of changes to its health and safety protocols.
Players will not be allowed to have non-team guests inside their hotel rooms, away-from-work interactions will be limited to family and household members, players cannot arrive at arenas more than three hours before tipoff on game days, and interactions should be limited to elbows and fist bumps.
What's more, players and coaches must wear their masks while on the bench.