Five Washington Wizards have tested positive for COVID-19, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the diagnoses.
The Wizards, who are scheduled to play Cleveland on Sunday and Monday, have had their last two games postponed “in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols,” the league said. They didn’t have the minimum eight players required available for either game.
The league has postponed 10 games in the first three-plus weeks of the season, and the NBA postponed the past three Boston Celtics games due to health and safety protocols. Their last game was against Washington on Jan. 8, but they are on schedule to play Orlando on Friday – albeit with a depleted roster.
It appears unlikely the Wizards will have enough players to play Sunday’s or Monday’s game against the Cavs. Their next game after that is Wednesday against Charlotte. That could be the Wizards’ first game in nine days, and they still might not have a full roster of players available.
The league does not have specific criteria for pausing the season, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the topic at his season-opening news conference.
“The view is I think if we found a situation where our protocols weren’t working, meaning that not only did we have some cases of COVID but that we were witnessing spread either among teams or even possibly to another team, that would cause us to suspend the season,” Silver said.
He added: “I’ve acknowledged it was a mixed sort of health and safety and economic decision to start our season, meaning that health and safety have always been our highest priority. But we recognize that if we hadn’t started the season, there’s also very dire economic implications, not just for the immediate members of the NBA community but those tens of thousands of jobs that are dependent on the league. The decision tree that we will look at in terms of suspending the season will be solely a health and safety one. If at any point we no longer believe that it is responsible to play, we will halt the season.”
The league continues to talk with medical experts, infectious disease physicians, epidemiologists and the National Basketball Players Association about its health and safety protocols.