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NBA COVID tracker: Wizards down to third head-coaching option due to league protocols

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With the omicron variant running rampant, NBA rosters are in flux. Since the beginning of December, more than 300 players have entered protocols, per ESPN. Thankfully, the number of players joining the list has decreased in recent weeks. 

In related news, since Dec. 26, tighter protocols — stricter mask requirements, increased testing — have been in effect and any player who has not received a booster shot has been subject to additional off-court restrictions. Daily surveillance testing for players, coachers and “tier 1” team staffers (i.e. personnel regularly within 15 feet of the players) will be over as of Saturday, Jan. 15, however, according to The Athletic. More than 500 tier 1 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 this season, according to ESPN.

Another change: Some players can now clear health and safety protocols and return to play as soon as five days after testing positive, provided that they are asymptomatic, vaccinated and likely not contagious (i.e. their cycle threshold is above 30). Between the tweaked return-to-play policy and the new rule mandating teams to use hardship exceptions when multiple players are in protocols, the NBA is aiming to avoid postponing more games. 

There have been 11 postponements this season, and the NBA announced makeup dates last week. Here’s a list of the games that were pushed back:

Two head coaches are in health and safety protocols: Wes Unseld Jr. (Washington Wizards) and Taylor Jenkins (Memphis Grizzlies). Washington’s assistant coach Pat Delany, who took over for Unseld, also joined protocols. Assistant coach Joseph Blair will assume acting head-coaching duties. 

Thirteen more coaches — Doc Rivers (Philadelphia 76ers), Chauncey Billups (Portland Trail Blazers), Rick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers), Alvin Gentry (Sacramento Kings), Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers), Billy Donovan (Chicago Bulls), Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns), Tyronn Lue (Los Angeles Clippers), Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder), Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets), Dwane Casey (Detroit Pistons) and Nate McMillan (Atlanta Hawks), Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks) — have entered and subsequently cleared protocols this season.  

The Raptors played two December home games at 50% capacity and, as of Dec. 31, can allow no more than 1,000 people to enter Scotiabank Arena, per a provincial mandateThe team expects the limit to be in place for the first three weeks of 2022, and, as such, are playing in a virtually empty arena.

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Below is a regularly updated, team-by-team list of players in health and safety protocols, along with the date (or, in some cases, the approximate date) they entered:

Players in health and safety protocols

Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. (Jan. 10)

Denver Nuggets

Detroit Pistons

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Justise Winslow (Jan. 9)
  • Luke Kennard (Jan. 1)

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Yves Pons (Jan. 8) 
  • Killian Tillie (Jan. 13)

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Langston Galloway (Jan. 13)

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Jordan McLaughlin  (Jan. 16)

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Kenrich Williams (Jan. 10)

Portland Trail Blazers

Sacramento Kings

  • Robert Woodard II (Jan. 12)
  • Tyrese Haliburton (Jan. 16) 

San Antonio Spurs

Utah Jazz

  • Hassan Whiteside (Jan. 12)
  • Jared Butler (Jan. 10)
  • Elijah Hughes (Jan. 9)


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