The NBA is set to restart in 35 days, picking back up in Orlando, Florida, after being put on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But before play resumes, 302 players from the 22 teams that will arrive in Orlando were tested for COVID-19 and the results are in.
Sixteen NBA players have tested positive for the coronvavirus of 302 players tested, sources tells ESPN.
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— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 26, 2020
The 16 positive tests equals 5% of the pool of players.
The news comes on the heels of a select handful of players that previously tested positive for the virus earlier this week.
Three of those players are members of the Sacramento Kings: forward Jabari Parker, center Alex Len, and guard Buddy Hield.
Kings forward Jabari Parker says he has tested positive for coronavirus and will join the team in Orlando restart.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 24, 2020
Kings center Alex Len says he has tested positive for coronavirus. Statement from Len, who emerged as key rotation piece for Sacramento prior to NBA hiatus: pic.twitter.com/A5yBcL8Obc
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 25, 2020
Kings guard Buddy Hield has tested positive for coronavirus, sources tell me and @sam_amick.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 25, 2020
As well as Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic.
Statement from Malcolm Brogdon
>> https://t.co/wSzjOAF7XEpic.twitter.com/jmclXRQHX3
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 24, 2020
Reporting with @WindhorstESPN: Nuggets star Nikola Jokic tested positive for the coronavirus in Serbia and his return to the U.S. is temporarily delayed. Hes been asymptomatic since testing positive last week. Jokic is expected to be cleared to travel to Denver within a week.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2020
These new positive results come after several players previously acquired the virus during the first wave of testing back in March, and the league suspended play back on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first positive case reported.
A day later, his teammate, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, was revealed to have tested positive as well.
Gobert, Mitchell, and Jokic weren’t the only All-Star players to contract the virus either, with Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant also registering a positive test.
Players we know tested positive for coronavirus prior to todays results: – Rudy Gobert– Donovan Mitchell– Marcus Smart– Malcolm Brogdon– Derrick Jones Jr.– Nikola Jokic– Jabari Parker– Alex Len– Christian Wood– Buddy Hield– Kevin Durant
The entire NBA statement pic.twitter.com/DFilOL7EV8
— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) June 26, 2020
However, these new positive tests, combined with the previous test results, will not halt the NBA’s return to play at least not yet.
In a Friday conference call, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he thinks the return of the league is actually vital in American society at this point in time.
Adam Silver on NBA’s return in Orlando: “Were coming back because sports matter in our society. They bring people together when they need it the most.” pic.twitter.com/T2pADikseh
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 26, 2020
He also believes the NBA’s proposed bubble, on the site of the Walt Disney World Resort, will be a safe way to ensure players and staff are not at risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than off it.”
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 26, 2020
Testing will also be administered daily to players upon their arrival in Orlando, to ensure that there is full transparency, as well as an AdventHealth clinic being present on the campus.
NBA players will be tested for COVID-19 daily at the start, Adam Silver says.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 26, 2020
Advent Health will have a clinic on site on the NBA bubble site in Orlando.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 26, 2020
But even with the guidelines in place for Orlando’s bubble, Silver acknowledges that there are concerns, not just with the positive tests in the pool of players but also the spike in cases across the country, most notably in the state of Florida.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledges: “The level of concern has increased, not just because of the increased levels (of coronavirus cases) in Florida, but throughout the country.”
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 26, 2020
And if a mass outbreak were to occur, there is potential for the league to stop play once again.
Adam Silver says that if there is a significant spread” of COVID-19 in the bubble, “that may lead us to stopping play.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) June 26, 2020
With the risk of contracting the virus being ever-present, some players have already decided to remove themselves from the remainder of the season, most notably Los Angeles Lakers starting guard Avery Bradley.
At forefront of Bradleys decision to remain w/ his family is the well-being of the oldest of his 3 children. His 6-year old son has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses and wouldve been unlikely to be medically cleared to enter bubble with his family. https://t.co/yputDg2VJp
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2020
Free agent guard Jamal Crawford joined Colin Cowherd on The Herd Friday morning to discuss the unpredictability of what the league is gearing up for in Orlando and why some players will avoid the health risk altogether.
“Each person has to make an individual decision. Obviously there is no playbook that we’ve seen to go through something like this. So a guy like Avery Bradley, without teammates knowing the whole situation when they first heard about him sitting out, they might have said ‘OK, why is he not coming? We’re fighting for a championship.’ Not knowing that he is dealing with family issues, or potentially could be dealing with family issues. So there will be guys with situations like that, that you just can’t hold it against them.”
“There’s no playbook to go through something like this.”@JCrossover explains why players can’t be blamed should they choose to sit out the NBA’s return in Orlando: pic.twitter.com/8VGq373mu8
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) June 26, 2020
Despite the reports of the positive tests on Friday, the NBA also released the 8-game schedule for each team entering the bubble before the playoffs begin.
And there will be fireworks with the first game in Orlando being played between LeBron James the Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard the Los Angeles Clippers.
The NBAs July 30 restart openers: Jazz/Pelicans at 6:30 p.m. ET, Clippers/Lakers at 9 p.m. ET
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 26, 2020
And according to FOX Bet, those two teams along with the Milwaukee Bucks have the best odds to come out of Orlando as champions.
The Lakers are going to be tested not only by the Clippers, but their eight game schedule features seven teams that are currently in the playoffs, which includes the five teams directly behind them in the Western Conference standings.
Lakers Basketball is officially back. Here are your end of summer plans.
Presented by @Deltapic.twitter.com/fiB9yX3Mlr
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 26, 2020
The Clippers schedule, comparatively, features five teams that are currently in the playoffs in the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Clippers schedule:
7/30: vs. Lakers, 6 p.m. PT, TNT8/1: vs. Pelicans, 3 p.m. PT8/4: vs. Suns, 1 p.m. PT, NBATV8/6: vs. Mavericks, 3:30 p.m. PT, TNT8/8: vs. Blazers, 10 a.m. PT, TNT8/9: vs. Nets, 6 p.m. PT, NBATV8/12: vs. Nuggets, 6 p.m. PT8/14: vs. Thunder; time TBD
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) June 26, 2020
The Milwaukee Bucks, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings and have the league’s best record, also have a tough record when they return to play in Orlando.
The Bucks will face seven teams currently in the playoffs during their eight game tune up before the playoffs.
35 Days.#FearTheDeerpic.twitter.com/rMORY1kuTF
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 26, 2020
The NBA will also take on a tournament style format in which games begin being played at 2:30 pm ET and the last game being played at 9:00 pm ET.
And we’re off…here’s the NBA schedule for Orlando: pic.twitter.com/4scO9QhRxH
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 26, 2020
The NBA has a little over a month until play resumes, giving them time and wiggle room to perfect protocol for the bubble before teams arrive in Orlando.
But there is little margin for error when play resumes.
How the league handles the bubble and player safety will be the determining factor in whether or not the 2019-2020 NBA season truly does reach the finish line.