Since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 back on March 11, prompting the suspension of the NBA season, dozens of players have unfortunately also come down with the virus. Thankfully none of them have become seriously ill, but a few, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Taurean Prince, have been forced to sit out of the league's plan to resume the season at Disney World later this month.
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was another who tested positive for the coronavirus, but he will be able to play after returning multiple negative tests, both in his native Serbia, where he was infected, and back in Denver. While it's terrific news that Jokic has been cleared, the timing of the tests meant he was unable to join the Nuggets on their flight to Orlando, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
The Nuggets departed Denver for Orlando on Tuesday, but the team would not confirm who was on the team flight.
A source said Jokic is healthy. However, the center had to produce two negative coronavirus tests in Serbia before traveling to the United States. And then he was required to produce two more negative tests before flying to Orlando with the team. A source said the timing of everything made it difficult and too tight of a fit for Jokic before the team departed on Tuesday.
Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 back in June, just a few days after he was spotted hanging out with tennis star Novak Djokovic, who also ended up testing positive. The fact that Jokic is already healthy is fantastic news, first and foremost, just for him and his family's sake. This virus is extremely unpredictable, and even with healthy people like Jokic, there are no guarantees.
So that, of course, is the main priority, but also from a basketball perspective, this is huge for the Nuggets. They're in third place in the loaded Western Conference at 43-22 and will need Jokic operating at a high level if they want to improve on last season's second-round playoff exit.
How Jokic will fare once play begins obviously remains to be seen, not just because of his ordeal with the virus and the strange circumstances of this bubble, but because he lost a tremendous amount of weight during the quarantine -- so much so that he apparently has abs now, according to Nuggets president Tim Connelly.
While having abs is never a bad thing, it will be interesting to see how Jokic fares with a smaller frame. He's always been a guy that's used his bulk to throw opponents around and carve out space, and he might not be able to do that to quite the same extent anymore.