The NBA continues on a path to resume play later this month in Orlando, Fla., but things are starting to take a turn for the worse. The league announced that nine more players tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
The league has tested 351 players since June 23, and the total number of confirmed cases now sits at 25. Sixteen players tested positive during the first round of testing, but the league has not announced any of the names of the players.
Commissioner Adam Silver recently told the media that the league is still on schedule to resume the season at the end of the month, but more positive tests put the future in doubt.
Not only have players tested positive for the coronavirus, but staff members have as well. The league announced that 10 staff members out of the 884 tested were positive for the virus.
Anyone that tests positive will have to stay in self-isolation until they produce a negative test or are cleared by a team physician. Players must pass a conditioning test before they are able to return to the floor.
Testing policies will become more strict when teams begin arriving in Orlando, Florida. Players and other staff members won’t be allowed into the bubble unless they produce two negative tests.
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Teams Working to Reopen Facilities
The Brooklyn Nets and Denver Nuggets were both forced to close their practice facilities after some players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. Other teams have decided to keep their practice facilities open despite there being some positive tests.
Brooklyn just reopened their practice facility on Tuesday, after it was reportedly closed for several days. DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie both tested positive for COVID-19, and Jordan will not be joining the team in Orlando.
The Denver Nuggets decided to close down their practice facility on Saturday after some positive tests were confirmed. At least two members of the team’s 35-person traveling party tested positive, prompting the team to cease operations.
Denver has yet to announce a date to reopen its facilities as they continue to monitor the situation. All-Star center Nikola Jokic also reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus while at home in Serbia. Jokic is expected to join the team as they begin their quest for an NBA Championship.
Smith Joins Lakers
If and when the Los Angeles Lakers take the court later this month, they will have a new player on their roster. Los Angeles recently agreed to terms with shooting guard J.R. Smith in an effort to bolster their backcourt.
The Lakers were also looking for someone to replace Avery Bradley after Bradley announced that he would not be joining the team in Orlando. Bradley cited family reasons as to why he has made the decision to sit out.
Joining the Lakers will reunite Smith with LeBron James as the two were teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Smith and James were a part of four straight NBA Finals teams in Cleveland, and they captured the NBA Championship in 2016.
Smith, 34, has not played in the NBA since 2018 but is one of the best shooters in the league when on the floor. LeBron James has trust in his former teammate, which was a big reason that he was signed as a “substitute player.”
Bradley averaged 8.6 points per game with the Lakers this season and spent time in the starting lineup. The loss of Bradley will also hurt the Lakers on the defensive end of the floor, as he was one of their top defenders.