The Portland Trail Blazers announced Sunday afternoon that they are closing their practice facility after three members of the organization tested positive for the coronavirus. Training camps around the NBA started Dec. 1 as the league gears up to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, but with added health and safety protocols in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All NBA players were tested upon returning to their home markets to start training camp and the upcoming season, with 48 out of 546 players testing positive. The Blazers are the first team to close their practice facility after positive tests, while the Golden State Warriors delayed the start of their training camp this week after two players tested positive for the virus.
The Blazers issued the following statement regarding the positive tests:
"Over the past four days, we have had three positive COVID test results within our organization. Out of an abundance of caution, having completed contact tracing, we are closing our practice facility today for deep cleaning while we run confirmatory tests."
Earlier this week, the league shared more health and safety protocols that every team must follow when the season begins. Additionally, the NBA also sent out a warning to every team that if the protocols outlined aren't followed, there will be severe punishments for players and organizations, including fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices and forfeiting games. Players could see their paychecks reduced if they don't follow the rules the league has laid out, which includes not visiting bars, lounges or clubs, live entertainment venues, public gyms, spas and pools and large indoor gatherings, among other things.
Unlike the bubble experiment the league conducted down in Orlando to finish out the remainder of the 2019-20 season, the NBA is venturing into uncharted territory by playing games in home markets, and having teams travel to different cities to compete. Therefore, the stakes are far higher and players, coaches and staff must be held to an even higher standard in order to complete the upcoming season safely.
We've already seen the MLB and the NFL run into issues with community coronavirus spread among teams during the season, so the NBA is trying to do everything possible to limit the exposure to the virus in order to get through this season smoothly. However, with the Blazers closing their practice facility after positive tests, the league will have to prepare for the fact that they probably won't be the last team that will have to put things on pause due to the coronavirus.