After mostly avoiding COVID-19 health and safety protocols for much of the season, the San Antonio Spurs are dealing with an outbreak.
Last Sunday, Dejounte Murray entered health and safety protocols before a matchup with the Detroit Pistons. The Spurs have since gone 1-3 without their NBA All-Star candidate. A few days later, Devontae Cacok joined Murray in health and safety protocols.
Before a rematch against the Pistons on Saturday, Lonnie Walker and Doug McDermott were also added to the growing list of Spurs out for the same reason. The loss of them led to the Spurs signing Austin Spurs guard Jaylen Morris to a 10-day hardship contract.
As we've seen throughout the league, once one or two players test positive, it often starts a bigger outbreak within an organization. The Spurs have avoided a spread as big as last season, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see more guys added to this list as the days go by.
Fortunately for the Silver and Black, the NBA has recently updated their protocols in accordance with the CDC that should cause a shorter delay in returning to action. Adrian Wojnarowski Baxter Holmes reported the new policy for ESPN:
"Previously, such players could be cleared from protocols after seven days if testing data showed that their cycle threshold (CT) levels were above 35, but the new protocols would allow players to return after five days if their CT levels are above 30."
When can the San Antonio Spurs expect Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, and Doug McDermott?
The good news for the Spurs is Dejounte Murray cleared COVID protocols on New Year's Day and started reconditioning for his return.
Knowing Coach Popovich's ultra-conservative approach to taking care of his guys, I wouldn't be surprised to see Murray get one more game of rest on Tuesday against the Raptors, making a safe target date for his return to come the following day against the Celtics. Still, there's a chance Murray gives Popovich enough confidence that he's 100% by Tuesday afternoon and he plays in Toronto.
Update: Murray posted on his Snapchat that he'll be ready to go Wednesday, but the injury report for Tuesday is still pending.
If McDermott and Walker follow the new five-day guideline, the last day should be Friday, January 7th. That would mean they'd both miss the next two games on Tuesday and Wednesday and likely Friday's game in Philadelphia against the 76ers.
Still, others have cleared protocols quicker by returning two negative tests under the five-day window. While these are educated guesses, the situation around all of absences is fluid and can change on a daily basis.