It looks like COVID-19 protocols have finally caught up to the San Antonio Spurs. After being one of seven teams to avoid game postponements so far, that list is now down to six after Monday night’s postponed game with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The postponement is the 22nd one in the NBA this season and comes after a game in which the Spurs faced a Wizards team that had six consecutive games moved. Meanwhile, the Pelicans had a postponement of their own, but it was two weeks ago.
The NBA seems to be adapting on the fly with how they handle teams that may have contract tracing to a positive COVID-19 test. At first, individual players were being isolated and sat out for games until they were free of the virus and able to rejoin the team.
Adrian Wojnarowski wrote about the Grizzlies’ slew of postponed games, hinting at a new approach by the league:
“The NBA’s postponement of three consecutive Memphis Grizzlies games marks an evolution in the league’s handling of COVID-19 scenarios within teams, essentially parking a team and taking it out of circulation once a roster has been exposed to the virus.”
How might this affect the near future of the San Antonio Spurs?
While postponements were relatively isolated at the beginning of the season, the trend lately has been exactly what Woj described in his January 21st article. When the coronavirus struck the Washington Wizards, they had six consecutive games called off from January 13th through the 20th.
When Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas entered the league’s health and safety protocols, the Grizzlies had six games postponed themselves from January 15th through the 27th. So far, here’s what we know about why the game between the Spurs and Pelicans was delayed.
As of this morning the Spurs listed only one player out with injury (and presumably had 15 guys available).
Tonight the NBA says they don’t have enough for eight.
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) January 26, 2021
As of Monday evening, nothing has been released about who has potentially tested positive or had an inconclusive result on either side. Because of this, we can only speculate until we know more.
The Spurs have a jam-packed five-games this week, which got off to a positive start with a win over the Wizards Sunday, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll be playing out the rest of the week as scheduled. After having Tuesday off, San Antonio is scheduled to host Boston Wednesday and then Denver and Memphis on Friday and Saturday.
Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens has already understandably made it known he’d rather not travel to San Antonio until he knows the game will be played.
Brad Stevens says he prefers the Celtics don't travel to San Antonio (from Chicago) until they know if the game has a chance of being played on Wednesday.
The Spurs-Pelicans game for tonight was postponed due to neither team having the required eight players available.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 26, 2021
Of course, there could be a chance that there was an inconclusive result on the Spurs’ side, but the fact that they went from having 15 guys available to not even eight is certainly troubling. We’ll keep a close eye on any new developments and update this post as needed.
*Update,8:42 pm ET – Per San Antonio Express-News writer Jeff McDonald, all players and staff were tested Sunday morning in New Orleans and there was no mention of a player being in health and safety protocols. He also shared that the word from the league about the postponement came after teams were already at the arena, so it was likely a late-breaking event.
*Update, 8:43 pm ET – Per Andrew Lopez at ESPN, potential coronavirus exposure related to a non-team member traveling with both teams in recent days.
Sources tell @wojespn and me that the issue with the postponement in the Spurs-Pelicans game is with a potential coronavirus exposure to a non-team member of the traveling parties of both teams in recent days.
The NBA is taking extra precautions with these situations.
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) January 26, 2021
*Update, 2:15 pm ET – Per Celtics play-by-play announcer Sean Grande, the Boston Celtics are flying to San Antonio, signifying Wednesday’s scheduled game is likely going ahead as planned.
Ultimately, what matters more than watching the Silver and Black on the court is their health, so however long it might take, we’ll all be here waiting.