Coronavirus: What to know as NBA suspends season after Rudy Gobert tests positive for COVID-19
A rundown of the facts after the league announced that it would suspend play on Wednesday
The 2019-20 NBA season has been suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The league announced at 9:31 p.m. ET on Wednesday that, following the games that night and until further notice, no games will be played while the league determines its next steps, as a Utah Jazz player -- (The Athletic's Shams Charania reported) -- has tested positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell confirmed on Instagram that he, too, has tested positive.
Below is a list of key things you need to know with the NBA season now suspended:
Is the season over?
No. Suspending the season is not the same as canceling it. It is unclear what the rest of the season will look like, though, if it is played at all. "Of course it's possible,"Thursday evening on TNT when asked if it is possible that the season will not resume. He added that it is too early to know.
When will games resume?
That is uncertain, but the shutdown could be lengthy. The incubation period of COVID-19 can be as long as two weeks, according to the CDC, which makes it difficult to identify people who have it. If it is difficult to contain the virus in general, it follows that it will be difficult to contain it within the NBA.
The league has told teams that the hiatus will last 30 days at minimum, Silver confirmed in his interview on TNT.
Did the Jazz play on Wednesday?
No. They were scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the game was postponed. The announcement, however, did not come until after the scheduled tip-off time. Players, staff and fans had already filled Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
What happens with the players who had contact with Gobert and Mitchell?
Gobert wasn't at the arena for the game, per the NBA, and didn't go to shootaround in the morning, per ESPN's Royce Young. He has been in close contact with his teammates, though, and both the Jazz and the Thunder were quarantined. Mitchell was at the arena Wednesday night, where the team was quarantined and tested. Of the 58 people tested, Mitchell was the only one with a positive result, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Oklahoma City players and staff were told to self-quarantine for 24 hours, and many stayed in hotels rather than going home, per ESPN's Royce Young, and they will be tested for COVID-19.
Where this gets more complicated is determining who else will need to be quarantined. Utah played against the Toronto Raptors on Monday, and Toronto played against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, and the whole league can be connected this way:
For now, the Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. The Jazz have played those teams in the past 10 days. There have been several statements from teams about this on Thursday:,
- that players and traveling staff will self-quarantine through the weekend, and testing will be done on all players as well as staff who were in close contact with the Jazz players or exhibit symptoms.
- that all players and traveling staff will self-quarantine for 14 days. They were all tested late Wednesday night.
- The Pistons announced that all players and traveling staff will self-quarantine until further notice.
- The Cavaliers announced that the players are not under a mandatory quarantine, but any players or staff who experience symptoms will be self-quarantined and tested.
The effects of positive tests for both Gobert and Mitchell could go far beyond all this. In addition to the players they competed against, the team staff that has traveled with them and the media that has covered the team, it's worth thinking about everywhere they have been since they contracted the virus. For example, the Berkeley Beacon published a story on Wednesday about the Jazz practicing at Emerson College's gym last week, and Mitchell worked out at an Oklahoma City high school on Tuesday. If there are more NBA players who have COVID-19 and haven't been tested, the scope of the spread could be much wider than we know.
What about the other games on Wednesday?
Four games, which were all in progress when the announcement was made, were played. The New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings were scheduled to tip off at 10:30 p.m. ET,. This decision, according to the league, was made "with an abundance of caution," as referee Courtney Kirkland worked the Jazz-Raptors game on Monday.
What about playing the games without fans?
This seemed to be the direction the league was heading. As recently as Wednesday evening, Silver was expected to make an announcement on Thursday that games would continue in empty arenas, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Things changed quickly when Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
What's the rationale for suspending games?
The goal is to limit the spread of the virus. Several cities in the United States had already banned large public gatherings, as social distancing is generally an effective way to "flatten the curve" when it comes to the number of infections. In the case of COVID-19, proactive measures are necessary to contain the virus and avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.
Wasn't Gobert the player who was joking about all of this?
Yes, Gobert touched the recorders and microphones in front of him after his media availability on Monday. In retrospect, not great! But this is sadly is a reflection of a nonchalant attitude that many people, not just Gobert, had about this virus before Wednesday.
"I was careless and make no excuse," Gobert wrote on Instagram on Thursday. "I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus."
Silver said on TNT that he has talked to Gobert about recording a public service announcement about the coronavirus.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that the league has informed teams that they can still hold practices, but players have been told they shouldn't have visitors from out of town, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon. The NBA also . From a broader point of view, Silver indicated the league will put the season on hold for at least 30 days. If the season does resume, there will be decisions to be made about scheduling, in terms of the remainder of the regular season, the playoffs, the Finals and the draft, with all sorts of logistical hurdles to clear.
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