The NBA is making crucial changes, adjusting its protocol for players who return inconclusive tests for the coronavirus, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The new protocol will allow for a potentially quicker return to game action.
After entering quarantine, if a player is asymptomatic and tests negative on a first re-test, he will be allowed to play in the next game, so long as there’s another negative return within an hour prior to tip-off. Prior to the new protocol, players would have had to quarantine for a 48-hour quarantine period after an inconclusive result.
On average, five of every 1,000 tests can return inconclusive.
NBA teams have been concerned that player availability could be in jeopardy due to an inconclusive test result, which would present a major issue in the middle of a playoff series, which could force a star player or key contributor to miss a game. This protocol change could also shorten that quarantine process for players.
Behind the curtain, the league had already been working with this new protocol, as the Sacramento Kings had an unnamed player test inconclusive but he was ultimately cleared for Friday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, according to ESPN.
“[An inconclusive test], it’s bound to happen,” said Kings head coach Luke Walton on Friday. “It will probably happen again to someone else while we are out here, but the player is back with us and we have everyone available.”
The new protocol will now make this new system uniform for the entire league instead of operating on a case-by-case basis.