The NBA continues to struggle to put on a full season in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the league announced that they would be postponing three more Memphis Grizzlies games after they did not take the court for their Wednesday matchup with the Portland Trailblazers. Memphis is going through contact-tracing procedures and so did not have the necessary minimum of players to play that game.
Apparently, the NBA is simply erring on the side of caution as they expect this to be an isolated exposure issue within the Memphis organization and not an instance of several players going through the health and safety protocols, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league seems to be making some sort of distinction between unavailable players due to contact-tracing and those in the health and safety protocols.
Players who test positive for the coronavirus will undergo a number of tests, including cardiac tests, before being cleared to play again. Those who are held out of games due to contact tracing can return after a period of quarantine as long as they have continued to register negative COVID-19 tests in the interim.
Memphis’ Friday game against the Blazers has been pushed, as well as their Sunday-Monday back-to-back against the Sacramento Kings. The timing is less than ideal for the Grizz, as they just recently got the reigning Rookie of the Year, Ja Morant, back from an extended absence and have won their last five straight—including their last game, an MLK Day triumph this past Monday. On that note, the surging Grizzlies could also be a decent bet to win the Southwest Division as +800 odds underdogs right now on 888sport.
The next time the Grizz will maybe be allowed back on the court would be next Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, which would be a nine-day break for the squad at minimum.
This quartet of Memphis postponements together with the half dozen contests the Washington Wizards have had postponed recently brings the NBA’s season total to 20 postponements. The Wizards won’t be playing for at least 13 days after six of their players came back with positive COVID-19 tests.
The postponed games are expected to be played in the second half of the season which will stretch from March 11th to May 16. However, it’s getting dicey as to whether or not the league will be able to fit every game in: in this model, the Wiz and the Grizz would have to play 41 and 40 games, respectively, in 67 days. That would be asking a lot.