The Grizzlies postponed their next three games on Thursday after COVID-19 contract tracing led to their roster.
The postponement is in accordance with the NBA’s health and safety protocol, which has recently become more stringent, taking entire teams out of circulation once anyone in their lineup has been exposed. Before, players who were exposed were singled out and benched.
“The NBA’s postponement of three consecutive Memphis Grizzlies games marks an evolution in the league’s handling of COVID-19 scenarios within teams,” writes senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski with ESPN.
“While the Grizzlies don’t have several individuals placed in the league’s health and safety protocols,” ESPN writes, “the NBA has temporarily shut them down in a way similar to how the NFL closed team practice facilities during game weeks to keep players and staff away and limit the spread of the virus.” USA Today reports that only one person on the team has tested positive so far; however, the league and the team have decided to postpone games until safety can be ensured. ESPN writes that Jonas Valanciunas is the only known player on the Memphis team that has been placed on the NBA’s health and safety protocol.
The league has been extra cautious lately and taken precautions to keep players, coaches, and staff members healthy. Since the beginning of training camp, all players have been tested for the virus twice a day with PCR and rapid saliva tests. Multiple teams have had to postpone games due to COVID exposure, including Minnesota, who, after postponing their game against the Grizzlies due to contract tracing, later found out the Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns tested positive for COVID-19.
This season, the NBA has postponed 20 games. The next half of the season’s schedule has not yet been released, as it is necessary to account for the high volume of makeup games. It is not yet clear how many of the games can actually be rescheduled. To make up for the missed games, as well as carry out the second half of the season, the Grizzlies would need to play up to 40 games in 67, a feat that could be logistically (as well as physically) complicated.
This past week the NBA has had 11 positive COVID tests out of over 500 players, and since then has enhanced restrictions regarding players traveling practically anywhere beyond their rooms, games, and practices when on the road. Additionally, no outside guests are currently being allowed in any player’s rooms. These protocols are all to be reevaluated by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association within the next week.