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The Wizards have positive coronavirus cases on the roster. Are they the also source of the NBA’s current outbreaks?

The Phoenix Suns are unable to play their game against the Atlanta Hawks, because they were exposed to coronavirus in a game against the Washington Wizards last Monday.

Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards’ game from last Monday has now affected the Phoenix Suns’ schedule.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards have players who have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. It is unclear which player(s) have tested positive.

The Wizards have played several teams in recent days where player(s) on the opposing team has or have tested positive for the coronavirus soon after. So let’s review the last week and what has happened since then, mostly from a coronavirus perspective.

Jan. 6 at the Philadelphia 76ers

On a day that would live in infamy because of an attempted coup and terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Wizards played on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers in a 141-136 loss.

One day later, the 76ers played the Brooklyn Nets where Philadelphia guard Seth Curry tested positive and learned about his positive test while he was on the bench in the Brooklyn game. The 76ers had to quarantine several players including Joel Embiid but they have still been able to keep playing games without interruptions. Same for the Nets.

Jan. 8 at the Boston Celtics

The Wizards played at Boston last Friday in a 116-107 loss. After the game, Beal chatted with Boston Celtics guard Jayson Tatum, neither of whom were wearing face masks or social distancing because both were playing the game where masks aren’t required.

On the following day, Tatum tested positive for COVID-19, two days after Robert Williams tested positive. Williams missed the Wizards game. The Celtics haven’t played a game since, but it isn’t because of additional positive coronavirus cases on their roster. Their Jan. 10 game against the Heat was postponed because Miami couldn’t field an eight-player roster (more on them later).

Ultimately, contact tracing and close contacts from Williams’ and Tatum’s tests forced them to postpone their Jan. 12 game against the Chicago Bulls. And today’s Celtics game against the Orlando Magic is also postponed, probably for the same reason.

Jan. 9 vs. the Miami Heat

The Wizards played the Heat the following day in a 128-124 loss. They played without Bradley Beal, who was listed as a close contact to Tatum from the game before so he was placed under coronavirus protocols.

Since then, the aforementioned Heat game against the Celtics on Jan. 10 was postponed because of an inconclusive test on their roster and contact tracing.

Numerous players, including Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Avery Bradley and Goran Dragic were under coronavirus protocols before their Jan. 12 game against the 76ers, the team the Wizards played just last Wednesday. Miami was able to play that game, though they lost in overtime, 137-134.

Jan. 11 vs. the Phoenix Suns

The Wizards won 128-107 in their game against the Suns last Monday, partly because Beal was cleared to return, even though he was in direct exposure to the coronavirus last Friday to Tatum. Since then, things have exploded on the coronavirus end for Washington.

On Tuesday, practice was cancelled because two Wizards players had to enter coronavirus protocols. They were later determined to be Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner in the afternoon. By the evening, the Wizards announced that their game tonight against the Utah Jazz would be postponed because they don’t have eight players available.

And now, we know that some Wizards players have the virus.

As for the Suns, as mentioned before, they are unable to field eight players for their game tonight.

Are the Wizards the source of these outbreaks?

Anecdotally, it seems like they are which Zona Sports of Bright Side of the Sun wrote yesterday.

Assuming contact tracers and epidemiologists determine that the Wizards are the source of some of these recent cases and forced quarantines, one reason why the Wizards could be a source is because their players or staff members may have been asymptomatic but contagious over the past week.

But before people around the NBA start pointing fingers at the Wizards, the reality is that we really don’t know given how rampant COVID-19 is. I’ll let the contact tracers figure that out.

Still, if the Wizards are the source of this, let’s not blame players or coaches. It’s not like the Wizards are going to games maskless, hanging out at nightclubs (which are closed in the entire DMV) or having a guy’s night out at MGM National Harbor Casino after games.

As of now, about 250,000 Americans get the coronavirus daily. When NBA teams are playing in an open environment unlike last summer’s bubble, this was inevitable in my opinion. It doesn’t matter whether there are fans in the stands or not. It’s just spreading.

What next?

First, I hope that the affected Wizards players get well soon.

Sure, players are at a low risk of serious complications. But they could be spreading the virus to other people who are higher risk, some of whom may be among the over 4,000 people who die of COVID-19 each day in America.

By February, we’re probably looking at 5,000 deaths. Or 6,000 deaths. The counts are going to keep going up from the Christmas surges until there is a lockdown. Just saying.

Given the reality of how bad the pandemic is getting in the United States, I believe the NBA must suspend the season. To be quite frank, the NBA shouldn’t be playing this winter at all until there is a bubble environment like what we saw last summer. There are downsides, obviously. But at this point, we are seeing that the cons of playing in an open environment and in home markets are overriding the pros.

At the same time, I’m not keeping my hopes up.