The Clippers traveling party to Phoenix to take on the Suns will be a little smaller, as seven members of the team’s support staff are in quarantine after someone tested positive for COVID-19, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The group traveled back to Los Angeles by bus from Salt Lake City, where the team was staying after playing the Utah Jazz on Jan. 1.
No players, coaches or team management are part of the quarantined group, which means that Sunday nights between L.A. and Phoenix will still go on as planned. Through contract tracing, the outbreak points back to a New Year’s Eve staff gathering where masks were worn “intermittently” inside one of the presidential suites of the hotel the team was staying at in Salt Lake City, per Wojnarowski.
The Clippers join the Rockets as the only other team in the league to have a mini COVID-19 scare where several people need to be quarantine. For Houston, though, quarantining several players led to its game against the Oklahoma City Thunder being postponed because it couldn’t outfit the required eight players needed to play an NBA game. L.A. won’t have that issue when facing Phoenix on Sunday, but it’s the latest example of how difficult it will be for the league to complete this season safely amidst a pandemic with no bubble in place.
The NBA is planning on rolling out a contact tracing program on Jan. 7, that will require all players and most team staff members to wear a sensor during all team-organized events outside of games. The sensors won’t act as GPS devices, but will alert the person wearing it when they are closer than six feet of another person. It will also make it easier to figure out how far the virus has spread if, and when there is another outbreak in the NBA.