Ahead of the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season in Orlando in July, the NBA tested its players for the coronavirus this week, and the results were released on Friday. According to the league, 16 of 302 players tested positive for COVID-19; that equates to 5.3 percent of all players. Per the league, any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until they satisfy public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and have been cleared by a physician.
Among the players that tested positive this week were Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, and Kings players Buddy Hield, Alex Len and Jabari Parker. Other players such as Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, and Marcus Smart tested positive for the virus back in March, and have since been cleared.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 cases are actually surging in Florida, the league is still planning to restart its season at Disney World in Orlando at the end of July. Teams participating in the restart will travel there, play eight “seeding games” starting on July 30, then begin a typical playoff format that will culminate in October. Once the season is resumed, the league will conduct COVID-19 testing nightly. Any player who tests positive at that point will be required to quarantine for a minimum of seven days, and get two straight negative test results before they are permitted to return to action. Any player who contracts the coronavirus — or gets injured — in Orlando can be replaced, but the replaced player will not be eligible to return to the “bubble” environment.
Between the coronavirus, concerns about the quarantine situation and the desire to continue fighting for social justice, there are all sorts of valid reasons for players to be wary about going to Orlando, and as such players aren’t contractually required to participate. If a team decides a player is high-risk from a health perspective, they may be excused from Orlando and will still receive their full salary. Any other player is free to opt-out of playing, and will not be in breach of their contract. However, if they voluntarily decide not to play, they will not be paid for those missed games.