For all the unanswered questions about NBA teams remaining safe from the coronavirus and playing without major injuries during the resumed season, the Los Angeles Clippers so far appear unaffected.
For one, coach Doc Rivers sounded optimistic that guard Lou Williams will participate after recently expressing reservations out of concern it would hurt efforts to address racial inequality initiatives.
“All indications are that he is,” Rivers said Wednesday on a conference call. “Up until we get on the plane, anything can happen. But I do expect Lou to be with us. I would be very surprised if he is not.”
Rivers also suggested that no Clippers players, coaches or staff member tested positive for COVID-19 after administering tests on June 23.
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“Not that I know of. But I wouldn’t even know that information, which is good,” Rivers said. “So far, so good. Guys have done a great job trying to protect themselves. This virus is a mean customer. So we’re just doing our best here.”
Things remain subject to change. The Clippers will leave for Orlando between July 7-9 for their resumed season that begins against the Lakers on July 30. The Brooklyn Nets’ DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie tested positive for COVID-19 after the NBA reported that 16 out of 305 players initially had a positive tests. But the NBA has remained optimistic that no additional cases will emerge before teams fly to Florida.
With Williams’ expected inclusion, the Clippers will have a dependable secondary scorer that has won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award twice. Williams, who has averaged 18.7 points on 41.6% shooting, has helped the team with his scoring in different ways. He has complemented Kawhi Leonard and Paul George seamlessly. Williams and forward Montrezl Harrell have given opposing teams fits with their frequent pick-and-roll plays. Williams is also a respected locker room voice because of his dedication to the craft and inviting personality.
Lakers forward Avery Bradley opted out of the season, citing concerns about his son’s history with respiratory illness. Lakers center Dwight Howard has not informed the team yet about his plans amid concerns about racial justice efforts and his six-year-old son’s mother death in March. The Clippers currently have not had to handle any potential missing pieces to their roster.
“Listen, it is their choice and we support that,” Rivers said. “There’s so many reasons for everyone to play. But there are very valid reasons for guys to opt out. I don’t think many will. I think they are all invested in what we’re trying to do. But you don’t hold it against anyone on any team. These are extraordinary times. We just have to support each other.”