The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 22, 2021 1:00 am


Contact tracing costs more games

TIM REYNOLDS | Associated Press

COVID-19 didn't keep Miami center Bam Adebayo out of any games last season, even though he tested positive for the virus not long before the NBA's restart bubble opened.

He missed two games last week because of the virus – without having the virus.

Adebayo is one of many players sidelined at some point in recent weeks by contact tracing. It has been a major factor in the decisions to postpone 20 games so far this season, including the latest three Memphis Grizzlies' games that the league decided Thursday to push back.

“As much as we may complain about it, it's only for our own benefit,” Washington's Bradley Beal said.

Beal missed a Jan. 9 game while going through contact tracing.

Everything is examined – who might have shared a car ride with whom, who sat where on the team plane, who had dinner with others and what their whereabouts have been.

Even the cameras that have been used for advanced stat tracking during games are utilized, just to see how long one player may have been in close proximity of someone else during the course of a game.

“I think we're doing as well as we can be, during what's a very difficult time, not just for the NBA but for a lot of people in the country,” said NBA senior vice president David Weiss, who helps oversee all the health and safety efforts for the league. “And I think we're doing that well because everybody – from players, staff, families – is making some shared sacrifices to try to do as well as we can.”

The Grizzlies won't have enough available players until at least the middle of next week, the NBA said – in part because of contact tracing. Today's game at Portland, along with home games Sunday and Monday against Sacramento, were pushed back, the NBA said. That decision came one day after the Grizzlies' game at Portland, scheduled for Wednesday, was also called off.

Memphis is assured of what will be no less than a nine-day break. The Grizzlies played Monday against Phoenix – getting their fifth straight win to improve to 7-6 and get over the .500 mark for the first time this season. The earliest they'll play again is Jan. 27 against Chicago.

All but one of the 20 postponements have come since Jan. 10. Washington – which will go at least 13 days between games after a half-dozen of its players tested positive – has seen six games called off, and Memphis has now had five of its games pushed back.

In all, 23 teams have seen at least one game called off so far this season. The only exceptions: Brooklyn, New York, Toronto, Denver, San Antonio, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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