As the NBA tries to fortify itself against waves of positive COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, the league will increase daily testing and face mask use for players and staff through the holiday season, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association agreed to elevate testing for two weeks starting on December 26. Players and staff will be tested on game days except for those who received their booster shot 14-plus days earlier or recently recovered from the virus, the memo said.
Players and staff will be required to wear masks on the benches, in the teams’ workout facilities and while traveling with the team, the memo said.
Fifty-two players, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, Sacramento coach Alvin Gentry and Toronto vice-chairman and president Masai Ujiri have gone into health and safety protocols in December and there have been outbreaks on the Nets, Hornets, Bulls, Lakers and Kings.
Twenty-two players entered protocols on Wednesday and Thursday alone.
Vaccinated players were not required to get tested during the season, but an uptick in positive cases forced several teams to begin testing everyone and a spike in cases ensued. The NBA and NBPA are determined to continue the season without interruption, and sources say there’s been discussion among teams about finding easier ways to expand rosters amid COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Chicago Bulls had the only two NBA games cancelled this week — Tuesday against Detroit and Thursday against Toronto.
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.