Through the first three weeks of the NBA’s regular season only one game has been postponed due to a team not being able to play due to COVID-19 protocols, when the Rockets were forced to postpone their opener with the Thunder on the first full night of the season.
However, that may soon change after what transpired in Brooklyn on Thursday night. The 76ers lost to the Nets, 122-109, but apparently learned of a positive test result from a player during the game that has resulted in the entire team being quarantined in New York while they go through contact tracing protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Seth Curry, who did not play in Thursday’s game with ankle soreness, was the player who tested positive and was on the bench for the first quarter before results came back.
The Philadelphia 76ers learned of a positive coronavirus test for a player during tonight’s game in Brooklyn, forcing the entire team to quarantine in New York tonight and contact trace, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 8, 2021
Sixers guard Seth Curry returned a positive test for the coronavirus, which the team learned of near the start of a loss in Brooklyn tonight, sources tell ESPN. He went to an isolation room immediately, and thereafter left arena separate from team.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 8, 2021
The Sixers were on the second night of a back-to-back, having played the Wizards on Wednesday in Philadelphia before traveling to Brooklyn on Thursday. As such, contact tracing is going to be very interesting to see what is determined as close contact as, while Curry didn’t play, he was in the locker room before the game and with the team in the traveling party. The Nets are still planning on flying to Memphis, without Kyrie Irving who missed Thursday’s game due to personal reasons, despite the Sixers news, likely because Curry was not on the floor.
The Nets are still flying to Memphis, a source tells me. BKN shared the court with the Sixers, who have the COVID positive and are staying in New York https://t.co/EddzNzsxcu
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) January 8, 2021
It is not the first time the sports world has dealt with the issue of a player testing positive during a game, as it happened in the World Series with Justin Turner being pulled in the clinching game for the Dodgers. However, that was the final game of the season and as such, we never heard much about any fallout in testing or spread. Just as was the case with that news emerging, that Curry’s test returned positive during a game, even if he was out with an unrelated injury, calls into question the league’s protocols that allow games to be played before all the most recent tests are returned.
What comes next will be very important, both in how the Sixers contact tracing goes and what test results come back over the next week, particularly for the Sixers, Nets, Wizards, and their opponents. Philadelphia’s next scheduled game is Saturday against the Nuggets and then Monday in Atlanta against the Hawks and Tuesday back in Philly against the Heat (who play in Philly again on Thursday). Those three games would be the ones that, should contact tracing deem a majority of the team to be Curry’s close contact, would be potentially postponed under the league’s guidelines that call for close contacts to quarantine for seven days while registering negative tests each day before they’re allowed to return to the floor.
UPDATE: Joel Embiid sat next to Curry at points on the bench during the first quarter and told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that he will be self-quarantining from his family so he does not bring the virus home to his 3-month-old.