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What we know about Suns’ postponement, Wizards’ COVID-19 trail

Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to a three-point shot against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of the NBA game at Phoenix Suns Arena on January 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns are not playing basketball and we’re going to have to wait and see how long that’s going to be the case.

The Suns’ last opponent on Monday, the Washington Wizards, had multiple players test positive for COVID-19, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Phoenix does not have the required minimum of active players (8) to play Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks due to contact tracing, so it was postponed. Ditto for Friday’s against the Golden State Warriors.

For now, the Suns will have to keep testing and await the league’s contact tracing until they get the results deemed good enough to return to play.

There are some gaps to fill in this story and it’s not entirely possible to do so. The Suns are sitting out as a precaution to being exposed to those Wizards players, as Tuesday night’s updated injury report did not have any new additions. There is potential lag time between transmission of the coronavirus and it showing up on a test, so it’s a smart move for any team that had direct exposure to take time.

The question is how much time the Suns take if they don’t have any positive tests come up in the future, which is surely covered by the league’s protocols. And if they did have a positive test show up, that’s even more contact tracing to account for.

While time will inevitably sort that out, here’s what we know: there is a trend of Wizards opponents having players out for coronavirus-related reasons.

Looking at the last updated injury report for every team, as of Wednesday afternoon, there are 41 players listed as out due to either health and safety protocols or self-isolation. Of those 41, over half are the Wizards’ three opponents before the Suns: the Miami Heat (8 players out), the Boston Celtics (7 players out) and the Philadelphia 76ers (6 players out). To place a disclaimer down, there isn’t a proven link outside of those teams playing the Wizards and it could just be a coincidence.

Go back one week further from the Jan. 6 meeting with the 76ers that was the first of those three, and we’ll land on the day between two straight games for the Wizards against the Chicago Bulls. Ryan Arcidiacono, Chandler Hutchison, Lauri Markkanen and Tomas Satoransksy all played on Dec. 29 against Washington, but then all four were out due to health and safety protocols for Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said Hutchison tested positive. Two days later, he said the same for Satoransky.

All four of those Bulls players remain out due to health and safety protocols as of their latest injury report on Sunday.

Reported positive tests include the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, but due to HIPAA, details of who exactly tested positive of those 41 are not shared on the injury report. Either the team shares, it’s reported, or it’s unknown which players are out for contact tracing and which are out due to a positive test. The NBA announced Wednesday afternoon it had 16 new players test positive from Jan. 6-13.

Donovan said he had the permission of both players to share that news. But the Phoenix Suns, for example, haven’t said a peep further on rookie Jalen Smith being out due to health and safety protocols since Jan. 4. Head coach Monty Williams declined to.

All players who test positive are required to spend at least 10 days away from the team. After that 10-day period and meeting the requirements for negative tests, the player can return following two days of individual work and passing a cardiac test.

With the addition of the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson being out on Wednesday, that’s now exactly half the league’s teams who have at least one player listed as out for coronavirus-related reasons.

Here is where all 30 teams stand on the number of players sitting out due out for coronavirus-related reasons as of Wednesday afternoon, with the last date of their injury report listed:

Atlanta Hawks – 0 (Tuesday)
Boston Celtics – 7 (Sunday)
Brooklyn Nets – 1 (Wednesday)
Charlotte Hornets – 0 (Wednesday)
Chicago Bulls – 4 (Sunday)
Cleveland Cavaliers – 0 (Tuesday)
Dallas Mavericks – 5 (Wednesday)
Denver Nuggets – 1 (Tuesday)
Detroit Pistons – 0 (Wednesday)
Golden State Warriors – 1 (Tuesday)
Houston Rockets – 1 (Tuesday)
Indiana Pacers – 0 (Tuesday)
Los Angeles Clippers – 0 (Wednesday)
Los Angeles Lakers – 0 (Tuesday)
Memphis Grizzlies – 0 (Wednesday)
Miami Heat – 8 (Tuesday)
Milwaukee Bucks – 0 (Wednesday)
Minnesota Timberwolves – 0 (Wednesday)
New Orleans Pelicans – 1 (Wednesday)
New York Knicks – 1 (Wednesday)
Oklahoma City Thunder – 0 (Wednesday)
Orlando Magic – 0 (Monday)
Philadelphia 76ers – 6 (Tuesday)
Phoenix Suns – 1 (Tuesday)
Portland Trail Blazers – 0 (Wednesday)
Sacramento Kings – 0 (Wednesday)
San Antonio Spurs – 1 (Tuesday)
Toronto Raptors – 0 (Monday)
Utah Jazz – 1 (Tuesday)
Washington Wizards – 2 (Tuesday)

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