Three Sunday games were canceled: New Orleans at Philadelphia, Denver at Brooklyn, and Cleveland at Atlanta. The game between Orlando and Toronto on Monday, and Washington's game against Brooklyn on Tuesday were also canceled.
These postponements occurred on the same day Atlanta's star guard Trae Young was admitted to league safety and health protocols. The Los Angeles Lakers also announced that coach Frank Vogel had been added to the roster.
Through Sunday evening, at least 75 players representing 20 teams were either ruled out of play or would have been ruled off if they had been in the protocols. This number has increased rapidly in recent days with the NBA being just one of many leagues dealing with an ever-graverening problem.
Jason Kidd, Dallas coach, said Sunday that "this isn't going away today. Tomorrow. or the next day." "This will be here for quite some time."
In anticipation of that being the case, the NBA agreed to Sunday a plan in which, in response to the current surge of COVID-19 cases teams will have roster flexibility without having to worry about luxury tax or salary caps.
A memo was sent to all teams on Sunday night, and obtained by The Associated Press. It stated that the NBA and union would allow teams to sign a replacement for any player who has been confirmed positive for the virus.
Officials in the United States expect a surge of new infections among those who have been vaccinated due to the large number of holiday-goers and other gatherings that are expected over the next few days. According to the NBA, 97% of players have been fully vaccinated. As of last week, around 60% of them had received booster shots. It wasn't clear if the positive cases are those who aren't eligible for booster shots or those who have decided not to get one.
Kidd stated that his team had discussed COVID issues with Kidd before playing the Lakers, a team with several players in protocols.
Kidd stated that "we didn't have any COVID problems up until that point, except after they left." "Spoke too quickly. We now have COVID problems. We have to listen to the league and do our best to make it work. You can see that games are being cancelled.
It is not known if asymptomatic NBA players are involved in many of these cases. The NFL has changed its protocols to ensure that players who are not vaccinated or have symptoms of COVID-19 are tested. Six NHL teams have been shut down by the outbreaks and many college games across the country have been cancelled.
It is what it is. Russell Westbrook, a Lakers guard, said that he was trying to be as safe as possible. He also spoke out about the NBA's growing numbers. Westbrook briefly attended the protocols in late last week. He returned at least three positive coronavirus test results and was cleared to return to play without missing any games.
According to the Cavaliers, five Cavaliers players entered the protocols Sunday. According to a source who spoke with AP under anonymity as the team didn't release any specific details, all five players -- center Jarrett Allen and forwards Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, and guards Denzel Valentine, and RJ Nembhard - tested positive for COVID-19.
They were joined by Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro, who had previously entered the protocols.
Vogel was not on the bench Sunday when his Lakers lost to Chicago. Vogel was replaced by David Fizdale, who coached. After two games being postponed last Wednesday, the Bulls returned to court.
Chicago doesn't yet have all its players back. Zach LaVine, Olympic gold medalist, is one of those still out and in protocols.
Billy Donovan, Bulls coach, stated that "we have to be able manage and control frustrations, anger, and disappointment." It's not going be a good idea. It is just not. The league makes decisions. We have to adhere to protocol and keep one another safe."
Along with the 75 players, there are several assistant coaches and referees. Andrew Wiggins from Golden State was one of the new players. He was not vaccinated prior to the season, but he was able to play in home games in San Francisco.
Officials Eric Dalen and Zach Zarba were scheduled to work in Phoenix Sunday's Suns game against Charlotte, but they were both later placed into protocols. Bill Kennedy was part of a team that included Brent Barnaky and Bill Kennedy.
Brooklyn boasts a league-high of 10 players and some staff in the protocols.
Blake Griffin, Nets forward, said that it was "just crazy".
Brooklyn's protocol players include James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Irving has been out of action all season because he didn't comply with New York City’s vaccine mandate. The team changed their minds Friday, and Irving was welcomed back to "games and practices in which [he] is eligible to participate", even though he would still have to miss two games at Brooklyn's Knicks and trips from Toronto and Golden State.
For Saturday's match against Orlando, the Nets had eight players available. Nine players were available for the Magic, which included four players -- Aleem Forman, Hassani Gravett and B.J. Johnson and Admiral Schofield were signed to hardship contracts late last week due to virus issues and injuries that decimated Orlando's roster.
Jamahl Mosley, the Magic coach, had all four players on the court in two separate segments of Orlando's win.