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’ games on Sunday and in Monday in Cleveland have been postponed, the league announced Friday.
Washington had already had its two previous games called off.
“Because of ongoing contact tracing within the Wizards, the team does not have the league-required eight players to proceed with the schedules games against the Cavaliers,” the league said in a statement.
The league has now postponed 12 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.
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.