The NBA’s decision to postpone the Grizzlies‘ next three games – despite the team only currently having one confirmed case of COVID-19 – represents an evolution in the league’s approach to the virus and to the 2020/21 schedule, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
For most of the season, when a player has tested positive for the coronavirus, the NBA has conducted a contact tracing investigation for a day or two, then required players to self-isolate for one week if they’re deemed to be a close contact to the person who tested positive. If the affected team still has at least eight players available after the initial investigation, that team has continued playing its games as scheduled.
As Wojnarowski explains, today’s decision to postpone three Grizzlies games essentially means “parking a team and taking them out of circulation” once the club has a player test positive.
There’s no indication at this point that Memphis’ one positive case will result in a larger outbreak, but the league – which tightened many of its COVID-19 protocols last week – appears committed to minimizing the risk of creating a chain reaction among its teams.
If the NBA continues to err on the side of caution and takes teams off the schedule for several days at a time once a player tests positive, it would mean certain teams spend longer periods on the sidelines. However, the hope would be that fewer total teams would be affected by contact tracing and possible positive tests.