Utah Jazz road trip cut short as Wizards go through COVID-19 contact tracing
Donovan Mitchell says embracing NBA's healthy and safety protocols is about being 'unselfish'
The Utah Jazz’s longest road trip of the season was shorter than planned.
Instead of flying to Washington, D.C., after Tuesday night’s win in Cleveland, the team returned home to Salt Lake City. The Jazz’s game against the Wizards had been postponed because COVID-19 contact tracing issues had left Washington with fewer than eight eligible players this week.
After a handful of postponed games around the league, NBA officials this week have announced additional measures to supplement the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“The biggest thing is we have to continue to be safe,” guard Donovan Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, the virus is around. It’s something we can’t ignore.”
Tomorrow's game against the Washington Wizards has been postponed.
We're heading home pic.twitter.com/gFATMyHlhG
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) January 13, 2021
The new measures include:
• For the next two weeks, players and staff will be required to stay in their homes at all times except to attend team-related duties or perform essential activities. Players must limit away-from-work interactions to household members and personal staff who regularly work in the home.
• There will be additional testing for individuals who must visit in the interior of a player’s or staff member’s home.
• Pre-game meetings in the locker room will be limited to no more than 10 minutes for the next two weeks. Masks must be worn.
• Face masks must now be worn by players on the bench at all times.
• On game days, players cannot arrive at the arena more than three hours before tip-off. Players must also limit post-game interactions to elbow or fist bumps and avoid extended socializing.
• On team flights, players will be assigned to seats on the plane according to who they sit next to on the bench during games.
• On the road, players are prohibited from leaving their hotel (other than team activities or emergencies) or interacting with non-team guests.
The new measures likely won’t feel new to the players in the Utah Jazz locker room. The team was already limiting game-day meetings and wearing masks on the bench during games.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has asked his team to “control what you can control” during this challenging season.
Mitchell said he and his teammates are ready and willing to do what it takes to keep each other safe and keep their season going.
“We have to be unselfish,” he said. “I’m not just being safe for myself, but for my teammates, my coaches, my trainers. It’s a weird time. But we have a job to do.”
The postponement of Wednesday’s game marks the first time this season the Jazz’s schedule has been impacted as a result of the global pandemic. But the Jazz know it may not be the last time they feel the effects of the pandemic this season.
“Covid is a real thing,” forward Georges Niang said. “We have to be prepared for anything.”